Brian Dutton putting his stamp on Walsall's style

In a short space of time, the Walsall way of life has already changed under new manager Brian Dutton.

Brian Dutton.
Brian Dutton.

After Darrell Clarke’s shock exit to Port Vale on Monday, the new boss had 24 hours to prepare the Saddlers for the clash with Cheltenham Town on Tuesday night.

It may have ended in defeat but with some positive signs also came a distinct difference in style.

Dutton’s men were eager to pass the ball out from the back at every opportunity, starting with the goalkeeper and through the thirds of the pitch to try and create attacks.

At times it worked. Some passing phases of play were easy on the eye but overall the attacking edge was lacking.

During the game they also went long occasionally and Dutton insists they will try to adapt their game depending on the situation.

When asked if the passing-from-the-back style was a tactic for Cheltenham or a long-term philosophy, Dutton said: “It was definitely tactically for Cheltenham.

“Every game will be assessed on it’s merit but in terms of do I want players to play out from the back? Sometimes. It depends on the situation.

“If the situation means it’s more effective to play long, then lets play long. If we have the overload to play out from the back, lets do that.

“It’s my first opportunity as a league manager and I want to try and play football when I can.

“But I don’t want to be a soft touch giving away goals, like we have done (against Cheltenham).

“It’s about getting the balance right between composure and trying to play when it’s on, but also playing effective football.”

Caolan Lavery, who added his first goal since November on Tuesday night, is already relishing the new way of life at the Banks’s Stadium.

“We’ve not had much of a chance to work on things but he’s already given us bits and pieces that he wants us to work on,” Lavery said.

“You can see already that we’ve had a lot more passes that what we usually do.

“It’s going to take time but we’re already looking forward to it.

“There’s no time to sit around and cling on to things that have happened in the past. A massive part of the game is about dealing with what’s in front of you and (against Cheltenham) the lads showed they’re willing to work hard and do everything they can.”

It came as a surprise to see Cameron Norman play as a defensive midfielder in the first half, before returning to the right side in the second half, and Dutton says it was a tactical move to stop Cheltenham’s long throws.

“Cheltenham are a top team, a top three team in this league, and they’ve got all aspects of the game covered,” Dutton added.

“They’re technical when they need to be technical but also physical when they need to be physical.You see how many goals they’ve scored this season with the long throw, we conceded one earlier in the season, so it was something we needed to nullify. We did nullify the long throw but unfortunately didn’t get the result.

“In the second half we changed to a 3-4-3.

“We felt we could get the ball into the wide positions more fluidly and affect the game more. Build the ball up and get a press on them.

“The adjustments worked in the second half in terms of performance but the goals didn’t come.”

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