Chris Marsh: Get the ratios right and wins will follow for Walsall
There is a phrase a lot of managers use when their team is struggling and on a bad run of form.
They will say, ‘We have forgotten how to win games.’ And I think that’s exactly what’s happened to Walsall.
It’s one victory in 10. It’s 10 points from a possible 45.
There are a host of damning statistics surrounding the team at the minute when you look online.
But there is another stat that really caught my eye this week.
In 2019, the Saddlers have played five league games. In those matches, they have conceded eight goals despite facing just 11 shots on target.
That isn’t normal, and it is very, very concerning.
It seems Walsall don’t have too many problems keeping teams at bay.
They are keeping them at bay when you look at the number of shots on their goal.
But when teams do get through, they are scoring and that has got to stop.
If you look at most sides, they will have to do deal with five or six shots on target during 90 minutes.
But they won’t be conceding two goals every week.
For some reason the ratios at Walsall are wrong, and it’s up to the players to sort that out.
Dean Keates said this week the only thing they have been consistent at this season is being masters of their own downfall.
That sums up the campaign perfectly for me. But it has to stop now, they to find a great level of consistency because the bottom four is closing in.
I said in the column this week, we faced five crucial games.
Well the first ended in defeat to Rochdale. But while the result was really poor, so was the performance. Walsall went long far too often. It was a belief thing, none of the players wanted to be the one to get caught on the ball.
I know what that’s like, I’ve been in relegation scraps and it’s hard. And it’s times like that you need experience, you need players who know when to keep the ball and when to realise it. Players who know when the time is right to play and when you have to clear your lines.
I think going forward, Joe Edwards is the man who will give Walsall that.
He is 28 years old so not the oldest. But he has been part of teams that have won promotions and been relegated.
He has seen it all and done it all. And I think he can settle everyone down.
I’ve got to admit I’d like to see George Dobson come back into the side next to Edwards.
Walsall kept the ball so much better when he was introduced on Saturday.
From what I’ve heard, he’s been carrying a knock for a while.
But if he’s fit, he has to play. He is only young, but like Edwards he knows how to keep the ball.
He is an intelligent player, one I think has got an old head on young shoulders.
And personally, for me, going long is no good. We need Edwards and Dobson in that engine room and keeping things ticking over.
Rochdale has happened now, there is no point in dwelling on it.
What the players need to do is pause, take a deep breath and go again.
There are positives to their play. They are not being carved open. And in Andy Cook they have a goalscorer.
They need to take stock and get ready for the next four games.
It’s Blackpool first before Wimbledon visit the Banks’s Stadium on Tuesday.
I’ll then be having a good catch-up with Keatesy when he brings the team to Coventry. And then it’s Bradford at home.
For me, the team need seven points from those four games. That will move them on to 42 points.
And they will then need 10 points from the last 12 games – which should be more than achievable.
It’s not all doom and gloom, but there is no doubt the team now has to get points on the board.
Finally this week, I was pleased to see the club run a promotional offer that means tickets for the Bradford have been reduced to just £5.
They did a similar offer Northampton last year when Dobson scored that famous last last-minute winner.
The club needs to do something to lift the atmosphere at the Banks’s and do something for the fans who haven’t had it easy.
Hopefully that will help inspire the team to three crucial points.