We lost. We went there expecting to lose and we did. Only this time, we were playing a good (on paper, at least) Premiership team, so there isn’t much disappointment in this. QPR had some great players and Bobby Zamora was different class. His pass for Wright-Philips to set QPR on the way and his lovely chip for the second goal meant that the game was taken away from us. Although I think 3 goals flattered QPR somewhat, they were worthy winners. We didn’t play too badly though, so can be proud of that.
We started with the now usual 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1 if you prefer with Hemmings and Paterson on the wing, Flo in the false 9 and Grigg up front on his own. It is the position of the central striker that is causing us the problems. Grigg either doesn’t get enough of the ball or isn’t the natural predator that is needed in that position. Nothing happened for him again and apart from his goal at MK Dons in the last game of the season nothing has for a while. This game was like the game against Doncaster, for all our good approach play we lacked any sort of cutting edge.
All the other departments functioned well. Flo showed that he has a lot of ability as he held his own against Premiership players and seemed to have a lot more time than any other Walsall player. Taylor, at left-back on his debut, looked defensively sound but didn’t offer much going forward (as to be expected against a Premiership team away from home) but neither did Purkiss on the other side. The only other player to catch my eye was Paterson who managed to create enough space to get a couple of shots in.
Is Bowerman the answer up front? He is certainly worth a shot and with Grigg away on international duty soon he may well get this chance. He came on and looked lively, almost snatching a goal from a mixup at the back. He is very temperamental though and perhaps a little selfish. I regularly saw him whinging at team mates (like Macken used to) and towards the end tried a shot from a ridiculous angle whilst Flo was stood on the edge of the penalty area. Perhaps Smith needs to bring someone else in because it will be a shame to dramatically alter our system in order for us to score more goals. Lets try to bring Karl Hawley back home, he is without a club.
Now time for fan report: I was disappointed with the behaviour of some Walsall fans today. From there odious chants of ‘You know what you are…’ and songs such as ‘There’s only one John Terry’ aimed at Anton Ferdinand to the constant appalling and offensive songs sang at Rob Green throughout the second half. It is never easy to identify how many people were singing these songs but it certainly wasn’t one or two as they were easily heard. What also disappointed me was how many people who didn’t join in the songs actually thought these chants and songs were funny. After recently watching the Olympics and then hearing how footballers could learn a lot about their behaviour from those competing then the same principle applies to the supporters as well. Get behind the team first and don’t bother abusing players or the oppositions fans as not only is it offensive it is also clichéd and boring.
Ex-Saddlers, Chris Marsh and Jimmy Walker, both decided that their life-stories needed telling and I agreed as I put my hand in my pocket and shelved out the cash needed to buy their biographies.
Marshy went first with the provactively tilted ‘The Good, The Bad and the Boozy’. It is an hilarious journey through the loveable rogues career at Walsall that saw him play in every position (including goalkeeper), win promotion, experience relegation, be the bane of Sir. Ray Graydon, hide the team bus behind a bush, form an unlikely drinking partnership with Ally McCoist, meet Jonny Wilkinson and still have time to come close to signing for Liverpool FC. It is a must-read for any Walsall fan.
Next up was Jimmy Walker and his ‘Size Isn’t Everything’. This was a more thoughtful book than Marshy’s but that isn’t to say that it was without its fruity moments. Walker, like Marshy, had his arguments with Sir Ray but there is a genuine tenderness towards each other that comes across in his writing. One of the best stories involves Chris Nicholl hiding in the bushes and preventing some youth team players from getting on the bus in order to toughen them up for the demands of league football.
People may ask me why am I reviewing these books so long after they have been issued. Well the answer is, I was looking in eBay for Walsall souveniers and came across these listings:
Jimmy Walker on eBay
Chris Marsh on eBay
The cynical people out there may think that they are my own listings and I did these reviews in order to earn a few extra pennies. If I did, which I may or may not have done, then please remember that I write this blog for free and some of us have got to earn a living. Cheeky wink, smiley face. Happy reading, readers.
This season I am inviting comments on the games that I atteneded. I will give my brief thoughts on the game and then you can argue (in a constructive way) with or against my thoughts in the comments section. Here we go:
I thought we played well against a Doncaster team that look like they will be challenging for promotion this season. Grof was at fault for the first goal but there wasn’t much we could do about the other two goals we conceded.
Paterson, Flo and Hemmings looked like our main threats but when we created opportunities we really did lack any sort of cutting edge up front and despite some good play didn’t look like scoring at all. Defensively, we looked shaky and in-cohesive at times as is to be expected as we have a virtually all-new personnel this season.
What impressed me most was how we kept the ball and also kept it on the deck. There were no hopeless long balls from our centre halves to a stationery lone forward, instead there was lots of movement from our attacking players which allowed us to keep possession better. We played some very attractive football at times.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know….
AB3SAS has some important news:
At the start of 2012, the Independent Saddlers Club was formed by two life long fans who wanted to provide an alternative meeting place for Walsall fans to meet and drink. The ISC is based at town centre pub the Cuckoo And Bell in Stafford Street and has gone from strength to strength in recent months with now over 200 members and rising.
Stephen Hanson and Bob Dyal have put in a lot of hard work and will continue to do so in their desire to oversee this project for the fans to enjoy. The pub is decorated with pictures, framed press cuttings of matches, flags and general Saddlers memorabilia and is well worth a visit. The ISC are offering away travel and social nights at the pub and is a non profit making venture.
Independent Saddlers Club
I am not counting our win against Brentford as the start of our season because I was still watching the Olympics and got caught by surprise.What did I see? Never you mind, young man. Oh go on then, I will tell you. I saw tennis, football, judo, boxing, hockey, weightlifting, athletics and wrestling. At the venues as well, not just in front of the gogglebox.
What I witnessed here meant that the chase for new players completely passed me by. What I didn’t miss was that we sold my top 3 players of last season (Smith, Sadler, Nicholls) and our joint top scorer, Macken. We have got Cuvelier though for the beginning part of the season, which is a happy surprise. The rest of the players we bought I haven’t got a Scooby about and anyone who does tell you they know is a liar as the majority of them, except Holden, are just young pups.
This time last year I predicted a comfortable mid-table finish and a cup run. I was wrong. This year I plump for a relatively comfortable 17th place finish for no other reason than us having the Flo man. When he has gone who knows what will happen?
Alan Buckley’s 3 Striped Adidas Shirt has posted a comment that reminded me of something I failed to mention; our style of play. I have been reliably informed that we have adopted a passing style similar in setup to Barcelona, with Flo playing in the ‘false 9’ position adopted by Messi. Of course our players don’t have the same skills as the Barca players but there is nothing wrong with nicking their tactics.
After Flo, the most important signing we made was Richard O’Kelly as Dean Smith’s right-hand man. He was at Doncaster with Sean O’Driscoll and oversaw a footballing revolution there which proved lower league teams can play attractive football and win as well. Let’s hope he can do the same for the Saddlers.