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Saddlers Social: Walsall fans have their say

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

After the Saddlers picked up four points in two away trips, Walsall fans have their say.

Saddlers Social

James Kenealey

So we aren’t going up and we aren’t going down.

A season of utter mediocrity is exactly what I both predicted and quietly prayed for as August 2019 rolled round… ever weary of the constant downward spiral that seemed to have taken grip of the club since the final whistle at Port Vale in May 2016.

It seems weird to be writing what will likely sound like an end of season review in mid-February, but in reality that’s exactly what it feels like.

It could have been a whole lot worse. However, call me hard to please, but it’s still difficult to feel that much joy at the fact that we’re likely to finish exactly where we currently sit in the division - the middle. Predictable, yes… even hoped for. But welcomed? Not really.

Our (still new) chairman and owner has proclaimed a desire to at the very least double our season ticket holder numbers. A nice dream, perhaps, but still one that’s miles away for me, particularly given our league position and future outlook.

Despite good will and a tempting offer of refunds should we hit said season ticket milestones, we have to accept the reality that with the current matchday experience we aren’t going to hit those fanciful numbers. We have to offer something more.

There’s nothing more I’d like in football than Walsall entertaining a full house every week at the highest possible level, but we’re streets away from that given our inability to either sufficiently engage on the pitch (look at the state of our home form over the last two years) or even service supporters off the pitch.

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The team being mildly disappointing and me moaning about the match day facilities. There’s nothing new under the sun, is there?

Jon Taylor

Prior to this week I would have snapped your hand off for the four points we got after the poor performances of the prior weeks. We have won seven games on our travels this season so far, to four at home, this demonstrates just how awful we have been at home and how just a couple of better performances at home could have changed our outlook and league position.

On the back of the clubs early bird release on Tuesday I applaud the club for trying something different with the new initiative of the potential refunds if sales targets are met. For me it’s demonstrating the fans are not being taken for granted as they were under Bonser. The most realistic option sees the 3000 target being hit meaning a potential £30 - £50 refund off your season ticket is decent and more than we have had before when splashing out on our season tickets.

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Now if we can increase the quality of football we are seeing at the Banks's starting by beating the Cobblers on Saturday the offer will be looking all the better.

Ian Newbold

League Two is poor. I mean, like, really poor.

After watching Oxford in the cup against Newcastle last week, it made me yearn for League One more than ever. Yeah a Karl Robinson team made me envious. How bad is that?

Truth is, I love that division. Walsall’s natural home. The football is a much better standard, I know teams promoted into it usually do okay, but the footballing gulf has grown.

There’s way more quality in L1 with many more teams trying to pass and move, rather than just working hard, running around and punting.

I just pray we are back there before my tolerance of paying to watch L2 trudgeball expires.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Nick Etheridge

The club have come in for some stick this season, some of it warranted, some of it less so. The damage has been caused over a good number of years and although on the face of it the change of regime in the summer is yet to bear any fruit, it’s clear that some work has been done in the background.

Small things like the update of the tunnel area with images from our past, most notably those of Scott Dann and Troy Deeney are designed to inspire our younger players and act as a reminder of what can be achieved in the game and at this club. Whether or not it will have the desired effect remains to be seen, but I’d rather see a proactive approach and some new things given a go, rather than stick with the same old which is what ultimately got us in this situation in the first place.

Following the tunnel came the information about this seasons early bird offer. For once there is a clear goal that the chairman wants to achieve and regardless if you think 5,000 fans is possible or not, it can only do good having something to aim for. Again, the offer may fall flat on its face, but hats off for providing a real incentive.

Of course, the best way to get numbers through the door is to be winning games, especially at home. Following two very professional away performances, we really need to be backing them up with a win on Saturday. Northampton will be a tricky test but if we really want to set a marker down for next season then we need to go on a good run from now until the end of the season so that there is some momentum behind us going into next year.

Rob Harvey

Four points from two away games is a decent return and I’ll take points over performances if it keeps us away from any danger, but dear me apart from the second half on Saturday it has been dire to watch. Newport especially. If the club want to hit 3,000 + season tickets the fans need a reason to want to get them. At the moment they don’t have that.

Also, can we get Rory Gaffney back on the bench instead of Adebayo? Pretty please!

Chris Saunders

The response to three defeats on the bounce is four points on the road and that shows as a squad we are improving mentally. We could have easily gone on another long winless streak but we turned things around and gained a couple of useful results.

The club announced an innovative early bird scheme as well which I applaud them for and let’s see how the fans react to it. What I will say though is if a togetherness, atmosphere and experience can be generated at home like we did away at Forest Green (and other away days which I haven’t managed this season) then I really believe with Pomlett at the helm we can start building something.

Robert Dearn

Four points from Forest Green and Newport isn't a bad week in my book. It is games like these where we show just why we should be on the upper regions, and why the previous matches against Carlisle and Morecambe are so bad.

I think the fans have been amazing in these two away games. Just under 1,000 at FGR is an amazing effort, and the 188 who travelled in rough conditions and supported the team in a long trip to Newport is a solid effort. The fans deserve recognition and praise for their efforts this week. A nice win on Saturday would do a good job.

Stuart Cox

Well that was 90 minutes of my life that I won’t get back. In terms of results, four points from two away games is a good return, but as far as entertainment goes, most of those two games did nothing to excite really.

I thought Pring was excellent again, both defensively and going forward – think we’ll struggle to keep him for another season as either he’ll get a chance at Bristol City or secure a League One move somewhere. As a defensive unit we did well, but Newport were also wasteful in front of goal too. Gordon and Lavery worked extremely hard without much service and I do think there’s a partnership there that will keep improving.

We HAVE to look at changes though for next season. On paper back in August you would have thought that this squad of players were going to be challenging in the top half and, for whatever reason it hasn’t worked out. We seem to be struggling for ideas going forward and to me, that’s an issue with the service from midfield.

McDonald on his day will open things up but that’s about it. Plenty of nice passing without any kind of ‘killer pass’ or movement. Is that the players or the coaching? We’ve definitely improved over the course of the season but for me, with this current squad, we’ve gone as far as we can. Well done to those who made the long journey on a cold Tuesday night!

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter

Sports journalist at the Express & Star, primarily covering Walsall FC and grassroots sport across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319456.

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