Nicky Devlin: Losing is no longer accepted at Walsall
Nicky Devlin has backed Walsall to quickly bounce back from their first League One defeat of the season, declaring: “We’ve become a team of bad losers.”
The Saddlers head to Oxford on Saturday looking for a response after last weekend’s 4-1 loss to Doncaster.
Tempers flared at the Banks’s with team-mates Morgan Ferrier and Luke Leahy involved in an unseemly on-field spat.
But full-back Devlin believes the incident was evidence of how boss Dean Keates has introduced a culture where losing is no longer acceptable.
He said: “If you were in the that changing room after Doncaster you’d have seen there are a lot of boys who are unhappy and a lot of boys who are hurting. And it has to hurt. Too many times last year we lost games and there was maybe an acceptance.
“But it doesn’t seem like there is going to be an acceptance this year under the gaffer - that’s not going to be allowed to happen.
“We have got winners throughout the team and that is why it hurts so much and why it’s so frustrating for the boys when we do lose. I don’t want to call people bad losers – but it’s not the worst attribute to have, to be a bad loser.
“If you are a good loser, that is when you have got a problem and that is not the type of characters the gaffer wants here.
“He doesn’t want boys who accept being beat and accept being second best.”
Ferrier and Leahy clashed after Doncaster had netted their third goal and Devlin said: “As much as it’s not good to see, I’d rather see that than if it meant nothing to them.
“If they just accepted it - that is when you’ve really got a problem.
“We’ve got two guys there who got really frustrated because things aren’t going well.
“They should have dealt with it in a different way definitely. But we have got two guys there who have shown it means something to them and that can only be good for the club moving forward.
“The gaffer has installed in us that it has to mean something. It has to mean something to keep the ball out the net and it has to mean something to put the ball in the net.
“It shouldn’t have happened on the pitch. Maybe behind closed doors it happens quite a lot.
“I’m sure a lot of people from the outside will think there is a problem there but the team spirit has got us into the play-off positions at the minute.”