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BLOG: HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

In the latest of his weekly Blog's, Hillary Street-Ender takes a look at the current state of affairs at Walsall Football Club, and considers what may need to be done to end the Saddlers' poor run of form.
In the latest of his weekly Blog's, Hillary Street-Ender takes a look at the current state of affairs at Walsall Football Club, and considers what may need to be done to end the Saddlers' poor run of form.

As we wait for the Saddlers to record their first league win of this still-fledgling season we’ve had the best part of a week to reflect on the Colchester game. Anyone who attended will have been mightily disappointed by what they saw, as we laboured without success to break down a very poor visiting team. It was probably a very good thing that we faced opponents who were every bit as lacking in invention as ourselves and, at least, we did manage to glean a point that lifted us up the table slightly although not out of the relegation zone. Sometimes a side will go through an entire season and only end up having played in a couple of goal-less draws so it’s something of a statistical oddity that we already have three such outcomes on our results list. We’re not scoring many but not conceding many either, a noticeable trait of Deano’s tenure over the last couple of seasons and we haven’t looked really potent in attack – excepting that one game at Meadow Lane - since the unfortunate breaking up of the Paterson/Brandy/Grigg triumvirate. There’s been many a dig at Deano for not bringing in a 20 goal a season man but, like many a Saddlers boss before him, he’s hamstrung by the size of the playing budget and the fact that players generally sign for us only if they can’t get a better deal elsewhere. Young Bradshaw looks as though he might go some of the way to addressing the problem and there’s no doubt that the lad is prepared to put in the graft to get into the sort of positions to threaten any defence. If only there was someone there to put through that final pass.

What’s worrying is that the thrilling, quick-passing style that blossomed during the latter half of the 2012/13 season has now slowed down to a pedestrian pace that doesn’t catch defences out and which allows other teams to keep us easily at arm’s-length. Yes, we have plenty of players who have had little or no chance to shine so far but when they do get a chance they’ll very likely be asked to fit in with the same style of play that’s getting us nowhere. The run of two wins in twenty four league games is a major cause for concern and seems to me to be a bit too significant to be mollified by it’ll-be-alright-on-the-night. From things I’ve heard said and comments I’ve seen it seems that supporter unrest is growing, albeit slowly, and is only going to gather pace if we don’t secure a few victories soon. Yes, most fans are still supportive of Deano because we like him, we know he’s being expected to manufacture a silk purse from a sow’s backside and because we know he has a genuine connection to our club but, really, how long can such a run be allowed to go on? That first win may well get us up and running, as that victory over Colchester in late December 2012 gave us the confidence to travel to the Franchise and play them off the park in front of their own fans in that memorable 4 – 2 victory at the beginning of a long unbeaten run, but it needs to come along sharpish before we find ourselves in a rut we can’t get out of.

Our lack of ability to find the net with reasonable regularity goes back much too far for comfort and is only going to lead us into trouble if we can’t do something to alleviate it. Supporters of all persuasions go to games to see their side score goals and, hopefully, secure a win by doing so but wins are so thin on the ground of late that we’re in danger of the next one making the national news. No doubt there’ll be one of the players assuring us this week, via the Express & Star, that goals will come and I hope whoever it is turns out to be right. It’s just that there’s been precious little sign of that happening yet and it’s all sounding a bit hollow.

I’ll be there against Preston on Saturday cheering the lads on and hoping for that elusive victory. If it comes, fantastic, and may it be the one that gets us properly going but if it doesn’t then the run becomes extended by one to take into two difficult-looking away trips.

So, what then………

By: Hillary Street-Ender.
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