Walsall comment: Building blocks are there for Saddlers

The winning formula doesn’t feel far off for the Saddlers.

Danny Guthrie
Danny Guthrie

It’s easy to get carried away after a win, particularly when fans are facing the abyss of exiting the Football League.

Creativity and scoring goals is still an issue but the hope of a Walsall resurgence is on the horizon.

With a defensive record to be proud of, bar the blips against Plymouth and Grimsby, the building blocks are there for Darrell Clarke’s men.

It feels like a project, something that will take time – particularly when an overhauled squad need bedding in.

But time will eventually run out if that final piece of the puzzle doesn’t click into place sooner rather than later.

The same starting XI, in a 4-4-2 formation, for two games running bore fruit against Morecambe on Tuesday.

Injuries seemingly forced Clarke’s hand, forcing him to abandon his favoured 3-5-2, but they may have been a blessing in disguise.

Elijah Adebayo and Cameron Pring have both been missing sine the bore 0-0 draw at Colchester.

No timescales have been set for their return, but both players have posted on Instagram to say they’re returning soon.

As two key players in the early start of the season there was concern over how their absence would affect the team.

But it has given their replacements an opportunity to flourish.

Zak Jules has been converted to a makeshift left-back while newcomer Rory Gaffney has lead the line alongside Caolan Lavery.

On the left-side of a back three Jules has impressed so far this season. Clarke had the option to call on youngster Callum Cockerill-Mollett to fill the void left by Pring but instead looked to Jules.

He was defensively solid against Bradford, but didn’t offer much going forward– but his display at Morecambe proved he has all the attributes to succeed at left-back in a back four.

Despite not scoring, Gaffney has also done well. His hold-up play allows his strike partner Lavery, and oncoming midfielders, to make runs off him, and he offers something different to other strikers at the club.

The 4-4-2 formation has also allowed for a midfield partnership to blossom.

Stuart Sinclair and Danny Guthrie have formed an effective team in recent weeks, with both showing the tenacity and guile to run the engine room.

The issue here, however, comes with fitting Liam Kinsella into the side. Playing out of position on the left-wing doesn’t suit him but what he offers is integral to the side.

He plays football with his heart on his sleeve and will run himself into the ground for the club - his characteristics are needed on the pitch but playing in a 4-4-2 Walsall may benefit more from an out-and-out winger.

It’s certainly no turning point yet and 3-5-2 may prove to be the long term answer, but the squad’s ability to adapt sets up an optimistic future.

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