David Grof Appreciation Society
I don`t think the words: "well that was a bit tame" quite give the right impression on last night's performance. If I were to use the words pathetic and uninspiring you might get more of an idea. On my drive home I tuned in to BBC WM to listen to someone say that the display was about the same standard as this time last year under Chris Hutchings and I found myself hard-pressed to disagree with him. However, this is not a crisis. For all our, myself included, early hopes of a play-off campaign this season we haven`t got the squad to compete and if we were to go anywhere in this league it would be a massive, massive shock. This season is just the beginning of, hopefully, a long and successful era under Dean Smith and I don`t think I`d be alone in thinking that mid-table would have suited any of us down to the ground at the start of the season. Our last 3 games have given us a bit of cause for concern but it is not the beginning of the end for Deano and it is certainly nothing to worry about. The fickle fans ringing in saying we`re awful and that it`s all downhill from here need to get their head out the clouds and remember that we`re Walsall. We have a shoe-string budget, a small squad and, quite frankly, it is a testament to our beloved side that we are still able to compete in the football league after all this time with what little resources we do possess.
I think the most frustrating thing about last night was the lack of ideas going forward. David Martin was thrown in at the deep end down the left for his debut last night and neither he nor Hurst gave the opposing full-backs too much to worry about. That said; even if they had put in delivery after delivery, Jarvis and Grigg didn`t show off the best of their ability last night either and neither of them really looked like getting in behind the Oldham back 4. So who do you blame? Chambers and Taundry, while brilliant, are not play-makers and there is a distinct lack of creativity in the middle. The 2 wingers didn`t seem to want to run at players and when the ball did reach the front 2 it was either a speculative 25 yard strike or nothing. We employed long ball tactics against a side with a centre-half that would encourage Enoch Showunmi to bring a step-ladder and they lapped it up every single time. Nicho and Paterson brought something to the game when they came on and it is hard to see how he can start without one of the pair against Scunny on Saturday. Nicho had our only clear cut chance yesterday and, although my 18-year old cat would have probably struck it better, it is good to see him getting in the right positions and causing problems. If he gets his chance against Scunthorpe I have no doubts that he will step up and take it.
I`d like to say we were beaten by the better team but I honestly don`t believe we were. Reuben Reid is someone we know all about and he really gave Butler the run around last night but other than that I wasn`t overly impressed. Kuqi is, of course, a presence up front but Reid looked like he`d put 27 sugars in his tea before the game because he just did not stop moving. Strength and pace are seldom combined in the modern lower league footballer but Reid possesses both in abundance and there is no one on our team I wouldn`t have sacrificed last night if it meant we could have Reid leading our line. Chris Taylor on their wing looked good as well, even if he did spend injury time gobbing off at the ref trying to get him to blow the full-time whistle, but Reid looks to be their main man and the lad showed just why we humble fans worshipped him for the 6 months he graced our pitch last season.
The last little thing was a little gripe I had last night, once again because of a radio phone-in. Now every fan is entitled to their opinion in exactly the same way as I am entitled to mine but this man phoned in the show to make the point that David Grof is a major reason for our failings over the last few weeks. I hate to be rude if he`s reading but what a load of absolute rubbish. David Grof made 2 outstanding saves last night to keep us in it. This man said that the players don`t trust him. Funny that, because every other Walsall pass was back to Grof. He even took the opportunity to skin the opposing striker after we`d passed him into trouble. This phone-in said that he looked shaky against Shrewsbury. A solid game, featuring one of the best double saves he or I will see this season, hardly seems shaky to me but perhaps I am delusional. I am not in the habit of criticising another person`s opinion on the club because opinions are all I ever write but in this instance I think it is completely unfounded and it really angered me to hear someone turn on the first good young keeper we`ve had since Gilmartin left just because our team can`t defend. If anything, Grof fills me with more confidence than Rene did a couple of years ago and I think it is hugely disrespectful to the young Hungarian after the performances he`s put in, in Wacka`s absence. Perhaps the caller would like the club to go and get Jonny Brain or David Bevan back to deputise instead if he`s not happy with Grof? No? Thought not.
On the lighter note I think I can speak on behalf of all of us when I congratulate Wacka on the birth of his little boy and I have no doubt that someone is already printing the 2030 England number 1 shirt with Walker on it ready for young Ethan James.
Next up: Scunthorpe. Come on you Reds!!!