BLOG: DEFENCE OR ATTACK? BLOG: DEFENCE OR ATTACK?

BLOG: DEFENCE OR ATTACK?

In the latest of his regular Blog's, Scott Brotherton takes a look at Walsall manager Dean Smith's decision to allow defender Andy Butler to return to Sheffield United, and opt for the loan signing of Leicester City midfielder Michael Cain instead.
In the latest of his regular Blog's, Scott Brotherton takes a look at Walsall manager Dean Smith's decision to allow defender Andy Butler to return to Sheffield United, and opt for the loan signing of Leicester City midfielder Michael Cain instead.

When Andy Butler returned to Sheffield United after the loss to Crewe at the weekend it left a lot of fans scratching their heads.

Boss Dean Smith had been making all the right noises to suggest he would be able to keep the big Yorkshireman for at least another month.

But, as he later revealed, the manager had had a last minute change of heart. Instead he opted for another attacking option in the form of Leicester City prospect Michael Cain.

It was a bold decision to bring in Cain on loan at the expense of the tried-and-tested Butler, with Smith saying he wanted to use The centre-back's wages elsewhere. It's sometimes easy to forget that a plethora of loan signings eats into Walsall's kitty as well.

The move says a lot about Smith's views on his players too. Firstly, he has placed his trust firmly in James Chambers at centre-back alongside Paul Downing. Then it obviously shows he is worried about our lack of goals, but also that he isn't too concerned about the defence.

The number of clean sheets before Butler's one-month cameo would support this, but they haven't all been entirely convincing.

Downing missed the home game against Crewe with illness, and the defence looked shaky. Whenever the visitors did break forward we looked in trouble. The marking was non-existent at times and the back four didn't look too assured when dealing with set pieces or aerial balls.

It is as though anything other than Taylor, Butler, Downing and (at the moment) Purkiss, is a patched-up, makeshift defence. Chambers still looks more at home at right-back, but will have to play more centrally after it transpired Butler was to be more of a sticking plaster rather than a longer-lasting solution.

The problem is if he could only choose one loan player with the funds available, you can't really argue against Deano. A meagre goal tally of just 11 in 14 games is the lowest in the league - more creativity is definitely needed. And the Saddlers' 15 goals conceded is the lowest in the bottom-half of League One, so on paper at least the back line isn't a pressing issue.

Having said that, even with Cain on the pitch we still couldn't grab a goal despite having 25 shots against Crawley on Tuesday night. However, the 19-year-old looks a useful signing by all accounts.

After failing to score in the last two, everything does suggest Smith has made the right call. No one will care if the defence appears a little suspect unless they start conceding in droves.

But what will agitate the supporters is if the Saddlers continue to draw a blank. Cain can only improve the squad and, if the talismanic striker Tom Bradshaw can recover for Saturday, Walsall might stand a chance of a first win in some time.

You can keep up to date with all the latest Walsall FC news across our social media channels, we're on 𝕏, Facebook, Threads, and Instagram. We also offer updates via Google News.
If you appreciate our coverage, please consider buying us a coffee via Ko-fi. You can also sign up to make regular contributions via Patreon.
Previous Post Next Post