It is that time in the season when owners, fans and indeed managers start to take stock of how they have started the new campaign. Darren Young, our Walsall FC Correspondent, gives you his take on the start the Saddlers have made in League One…
I don’t think I’ll be the only Walsall supporter who’s not surprised that after ten games, we are about as mid-table as it gets.
Equal number of wins and losses plus too many draws leaves us in unlucky thirteenth at the moment but there is nothing particularly lucky or unlucky about our start to the season; only inconsistency.
Its also played fast and loose with fan expectations. We just don’t know what is going to happen, a case in point made perfectly last night as the number of matches in our league campaign hit double figures with a home match against Charlton.
We started brightly, fell into a deep self-inflicted hole of no confidence after conceding, got an equaliser out of nothing and then were actually pretty good in the second half, only to concede a wonder strike with two minutes to go and inexplicably get one of our own less than 60 seconds later. A match of high, lows, daftness and brilliance all mixed together. Much like the nine games before it.
Away at Bury on opening day was like a rugby match – we kept giving penalties away – and it looked like a long season lay ahead. Hope returned with a win at home to Oldham and then we conceded (another) late penalty to be denied at Pompey, but then came back from three down to do the same to Bradford. Topsy-turvey yes, but new signings before and on transfer deadline day gave cause for optimism.
And so it continued. We beat Plymouth but threw potential points away against ten men in Bristol, followed by our nadir at The New York where we shipped four goals in barely half an hour.
But just when we thought it was safe to get the Jon Whitney Out banners out again, improved performances against Posh (draw), Oxford (first away win) and Charlton (draw) followed. Sandwiched in between two of them was a convincing EFL Trophy win against WBA reserves leaving no one at the Banks’s with a bloody clue where this season is going.
The new signings blow hot and cold. The formations and striker choices keep changing and I’m pretty sure that JW doesn’t know his best of either so far.
Luckily, the whole league is a bit like it too, with odd results and a major lack of consistency from nearly everyone.
Next up in the league are the current top two, Wigan and Shrewsbury so by the time we get just past the quarter mark of the season, I suspect we might know more about whether we’ll be spending the rest of the season looking at those above us with a view to catching them or below us with concern.
If we settle with the team and formation, and keep finding goals, which has been a real bonus this season, then hopefully we can mount a last play off place challenge – I’m predicting it will start on 7 October when we inflict the first defeat of the campaign on our nearest rivals from Shropshire.
But then, I tipped Shrewsbury to go down so what do I know?
Who has been the best player in your team?
They’ve all been inconsistently bad and good. Erun Oztumer is our star though.
Who has been the most surprising player in your team?
Joe Edwards gets better in central midfield every time I see him.
How have you done against expectations?
Conceded about twenty penalties