Chris Marsh: Walsall boss Dean Keates shows he has a real tough streak

By Chris Marsh | Walsall FC | Published:

Dean Keates is a boss who has shown he isn’t afraid of making big calls in his short time in charge of Walsall.

Dean Keates

And he made some really brave decisions on Saturday when he switched formations and left Andy Cook and Kieron Morris out of the starting XI.

The Saddlers have been brilliant in the 4-4-2 formation Keates first implemented last season.

But he switched to a five-man midfield at Oakwell. And you have to say he got the decision right with Walsall picking up an excellent point. It is, of course, results and the team that comes first.

But I’m sure Morris and Cook will have been disappointed not to start – even if it was for tactical reasons.

I was surprised both were left out. Now though it’s all about how they respond. Cook has already shown the right reaction by coming off the bench and scoring.

It’s a comparison that has been made before, but he reminds me so much of Andy Rammell. He is a goalscorer and I expect him to get at least 15 this season. But he isn’t a natural goalscorer along the lines of Alan Buckley, David Kelly, Mark Robins and Tom Bradshaw.

With those players, if they got 25 good chances, 20 would end up in the back of the net.

Cook has missed a few opportunities this season and has been unlucky with efforts hitting the post and bar.


But he will gets goals and he influences the game in other ways. He causes havoc. He will smash people, he will win headers he has no right to win. He gives the team an awful lot.

And hopefully coming off the bench and scoring will boost his confidence and lead to more goals. For Morris, it must have been hard to have been left out.

He started the season on the bench but he’s responded in the right way with some positive performances and important goals.

Now he’s been left out again but to him it shouldn’t matter it was down to tactical reasons. He should want to play in whatever system Keates goes for. I really hope Cook and Morris and have knocked on Keates’ door to find out what they do need to do if he changes system again.


That is what Keatesy will want. No player should be happy to be left out – if they are, you have got a problem.

It’s not acceptable to be content to be dropped. And if you are, you have to show your manager you care. Hopefully both have done that. And over the next few weeks they’ll put in performances that gives the manager an even greater headache.

Finally this week, I cannot believe one bookmaker had Walsall at odds of 10/1 to win at Barnsley.

It was a two-horse race, and I find those odds insulting. Barnsley weren’t underestimating us. But it’s clear other people still are.

That’s fine though. The year we went up with Fulham, nobody gave us a chance.

We were free-styling in our parachutes – nobody had us on their radar.

So I’m happy for people to keep betting against us because I’m absolutely sure this team is going to upset a lot more odds this season.


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