Saddlers Social: Walsall fans have their say
Saddlers fans have their say this week on life at the Banks's Stadium.
Beating the teams below us is something Walsall always seem to struggle with.
Off the back of a good run of wins, fans were hoping that games against Salford and Leyton Orient, both of which have had slower starts to the season, would be a great opportunity to gain a few more points and carry on climbing the table.
However, once again Walsall fail to deliver against a team below them. Personally I thought after the Morecambe and Scunthorpe games that this season we may be able to buck the trend of previous years.
This leads us to the next couple of games. This weekend we have a game against another recently promoted team. Like Salford, and ourselves, Orient haven’t quite got going this season, which is something Walsall have to take advantage of.
To take zero points from two teams below us would be far from ideal, especially as following this we have a tough game against high flying Cheltenham.
Cheltenham will pose a very difficult test. Three points on Saturday would be a great way to ensure we don’t have another run like the one from mid-August to mid-September. Here’s hoping to a good result.
Just like I didn’t want to get carried away with four wins on the bounce, I don’t want to become deflated at one defeat, although it was a poor performance on Saturday.
Holden, Liddle and Gordon really offered nothing, the latter looking like he is trying too hard to get that elusive goal, thus not really doing his job properly. I really don’t think Holden is good enough for this level, always coming inside on his left foot and quickly being found out by the opposition and there are better players on the bench than Liddle.
Positives? Hardy and Bates were the players most comfortable on the ball when they came on and looked like they were trying to create, although so often they had to turn back as no one was showing for them. I would love to DC try a formation where we can fit them in. Glad Gaffney will be back this week – really missed his presence and his general nuisance factor.
Another moan though – after promising at the start of the season to improve the match day experience, the queues at the bar were enormous, and when entering the Stadium Suite at half time no one had bothered to clear the rubbish and glasses from the tables left from before the game…not great.
I still have faith that DC is the right man for the job although I’m not convinced that this will be the season that we all hoped it would be. Still 34 matches to go though! UTS.
Man, I’m missing League One.
When we got relegated, I thought I’d do some League Two research and watch their play-offs. I was hoping I’d find it had moved on from the last time we were playing in it, and perhaps there were fewer teams employing beasts and hoofball tactics.
Well, Mansfield versus Newport epitomised exactly that. You could tell just by looking at their respective goalies. They looked more Rugby League than Football League if you get my drift.
Strength and coming for corners still obviously much more relevant than making saves and actually being agile. League Two would be no place for flimsies like De Gea and Kepa.
It’s not great.
I love League One, I know I’d be wrongly ridiculed for it, but I could fill this paper with reasons as to why L1 is the best league in England, possibly the world. I remember telling a Yeovil fan he’d never have it better than playing in the third division of English football. He laughed and waxed lyrical as they were promoted off to the Chumpionship, but he’s lived through that rubbish, and more, and learnt the hard way I was right.
Long live League One and everything crossed that our absence from it is short.
Firstly can we all agree that Liam Keen is now banned from attending any events while Walsall have any matches, the Liam Keen effect is real!!
With Saturday's game not really offering much to talk about I think the only real positive was the introduction of Alfie Bates. With the game being so poor from a Walsall point of view it was a great opportunity for him to come on and show what he is all about. I think his performance didn’t go un-noticed by the crowd or DC by his comments in his post-match interview and hopefully we get to see more of Alfie in the coming weeks.
Over the weekend I saw a post on social media in regards to Danny Guthrie…When he has played a league game this season we have only lost one and drawn one, granted he has only played six league games but is he that influential to us as a team ? Every time I have seen him play he looks a class above and at times you can see he is a pass ahead of the play but on current trend looking like we will be lucky to get 20 games out of him with injuries ruling him out on a regular basis.
Onto Leyton orient, the weekend brought our first defeat in 5 and their first win in 5. Hopefully we can bounce back with a performance and come away with a win
Well well well, just when some were getting carried away we were brought down to earth with a bang.
Yesterday’s performance against Salford was abject, clueless and spineless. One of the worst performances I’ve seen from a Walsall side in the thirty years of supporting us.
What I won’t accept is players like Gary Liddle just not trying. He is meant to be one of the older heads, yet 18 year old Alfie Bates showed him how to play even at 3-0 down. I don’t like singling players out but when they perform that bad they deserve it.
We had won four games before yesterday and there’s enough in this squad to go on another run but the alarm bells from last season were on show yesterday - I’m confident Clarke won’t allow it to happen again like his predecessors did.
This season was all about stopping the rot and not suffering a double drop, which we can then build on for next season but performances like yesterday cannot happen regularly.
I expect a positive reaction at Orient.
Last week saw the well-earned retirement of a club legend in physio-turned-kit man Tom Bradley. A staple of squad photos since 1985, Tom’s departure is perhaps the last in a slew of goodbyes from those of notable long-association following the retreat of Jeff Bonser and the sad passings of Barrie Blower and Royston Randle.
Truly long service isn’t something we see much of at Walsall any more, or indeed across football as a whole. We’re long past the days of legends like Chris Marsh, Ian Roper, Darren Wrack and Jimmy Walker clocking up over ten years of playing service each. I genuinely can’t think that we’ve had another player testimonial since Wrack’s in 2008.
Nor for that matter can I conceive of when our next one will be, if ever. The closest we’ve come recently is Adam Chambers, whose almost nine years of reliable service seem to have come to a close over the summer. The transient nature of modern football seems to have truly put paid to old fashioned steadfast squad stability.
It’s all the sadder when you realise that none of the first choice 11 from that wonderful 2015/16 season are still at the club now… indeed only two of the 31 man squad (Liam Kinsella and Liam Roberts) remain.
Defeat is a bitter pill to swallow, but Saturdays result should bring a sense of realism and perspective to the rebuild job Darrell Clarke has on his hands.
It's been easy to get carried away following the last few weeks, and given the recent results of Salford, most of us would have turned up on Saturday expecting a win. What happened is a stark reminder that nobody should be taken for granted in this division, as there isn't really too much to separate the majority of sides in it.
In a performance laden with mistakes, the main thing that worried me was that we didn't have anyone in the middle of the park to put their foot on the ball and try and get some form of control on the game. This is where Danny Guthrie is going to be a big miss when he isn't fit as we just don't have the quality to feed the forwards without him.
This is perhaps where someone like Alfie Bates can step up, as he did to some extent on Saturday. Granted that we were 3-0 down when he came on and Salford were happy to sit back and let us have the ball, but he at least tried to do something different and always looked positive i possession.
In what has been a barren spell in the last few years in terms of talent coming through, maybe some shoots of recovery are coming through and we can go back to producing our own players again.
Over the last few years some people thought that going down to League Two may be helpful to give our club a reboot and allow us to rise again on a crest of elation as we marched to promotion, others thought we would struggle to return to League One and unfortunately the latter is proving to be true.
We are going to be inconsistent and it’s not going to be pretty to watch for initial stages of this rebuild and that just seems to be a fact a club with our resources has to accept.
What I do believe however is in Clarke we have a manager that has real ability, even when he makes mistakes as I believe he did on Saturday. The hardest thing for me to hear however was the discontent from stands, granted it was an abject performance but I don’t believe Clarke will accept that level of performance and will put it right.
What I personally didn’t like to hear or see was singling of players out by people in the stands, I know the players were on the whole well below average but can we not just give them 90 minutes of support?
A bad day at the office, one of those days, we will have these days across the course of the season if you include Grimsby and Plymouth we have had three of those days already through 12 league games, demonstrating what Clarke as said we are fair way away from a top seven side at the moment.
Consistency of performance at the moment is the issue and on Saturday we looked abject, clueless and lacking any sort of intent or ingenuity to break down Salford and this has been the same across a number of games this season and Saturday demonstrated how much we miss someone like Guthrie in the middle of the park who can play a pass to unlock a defence.
We feel very Jekyll and Hyde in defence so far this season we are either a brick wall or a piece of Swiss cheese and I feel the selection at times from Clark can be puzzling. What’s happened to Norman, I know he’s not everyone’s star man but he is a right back and he seems to have been banished forcing our best centre half Clarke to play right back making it harder for him to organise the back line.
Liddle must be a great trainer because I am yet to see him have a good game in a Saddlers shirt and I am genuinely shocked each time he is picked ahead of Kinsella. Judging from Clarke’s post match comments he didn’t hold any punches and hopefully we will see the Walsall team that picked up three league wins on the spin at Leyton Orient.