Dean Keates hails Walsall intelligence
Boss Dean Keates praised the intelligence of his players after a tactical shift saw them pick up an excellent point at Barnsley.
Saddlers, who have lined up in a 4-4-2 formation all season, switched to a 4-1-4-1 at Oakwell which became a 4-3-3 when they attacked. It led to another impressive display with Andy Cook netting late to secure a deserved point against the promotion favourites.
And Keates said it’s a pleasure to work with players who listen and take on board his instructions.
“You have to give the players credit, they are intelligent boys,” the boss said. “We explain things to them and give them as much information as we can.
“But they still have to go out, believe in themselves and believe they can play. We analysed Barnsley and felt that system was the best way to go.
“When we broke in the first half, we went from a block of five to three or four bodies breaking forward.
“We looked good on the counter-attack. But that’s because the players play without fear.
“They are hungry, they have got the right desire and they play without fear.”
Walsall’s draw at Oakwell continued their unbeaten start to the League One season. The Saddlers had been tipped for relegation before a ball had been kicked. But Keates isn’t worried that opposing teams now see his side as genuine challengers for a place in the top half.
“Barnsley was a good point for us but it’s still early days,” the 40-year-old continued.
“Were happy with the start we have made. It could be better, it could be a lot worse.
“We were favourites to go down, Barnsley were favourites to go up. And if I’m honest, I think we went toe-to-toe with them,” he added.
“But I’m not concerned what other teams in the division think about us.
“It’s about what we think about ourselves and what we think inside the four walls of that changing room.
“The lads are together, they all want to do well for each other and well for the football club.
“That is something we have got, what happens on the outside doesn’t concern us.”