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Northern Saddler

Northern Saddler

Last night, I was able to go to the Aston Villa match, which is a rare thing when you are stuck up in the North, as it costs an arm and a leg to get to the ground - and that`s before I`ve got my ticket.
On the evidence from what I witnessed on what turned out to be a cool-but-nice summer`s evening, I am a wee bit worried. If the first half display is anything to go by, we are well and truly screwed next season.
However, if we play more like we did in the second half, then we might be ok. There seemed to be a surprisingly small amount of passion in the bellies of the eleven Saddlers, who I was seeing playing in their new 'all-white` look for the new season (have been waiting to use that one for weeks).
The players seemed to be lacking the bite and determination to close Villa down, which may have been due to the fact that the combined age of the Walsall team was 313 years - not good really.
Mooney was trying to get the better of the younger, meaner, fitter Gary Cahill, but he just could not win. Butler was his usual chasing self, trying to collect every lofted ball that was played to him.
That was another thing, why do Walsall players think that if they lob the ball down the line, it will cause loads of problems? Villa, of course, just got the ball back and piled more pressure on. The second half was a different story.
Walsall came out with more determination, and with the ability of how to pass to your team-mates without cocking it all up - Danny Sonner being the pick of the bunch.
Then, the introduction of another senior citizen in Paul Hall did actually work, along with the much-nagged and anticipated arrival of Walsall`s resident live-wire, Ishmel Demontagnac.
It was Ishmel`s tidy and skilful footwork on the front-line that meant a run and cross into the Villa penalty area was delightfully side-footed into the net by an eager to impress Paul Hall.
In the end, after Villa had dominated the first half of the match, DD`s barmy army (emphasis on the barmy) hit back in the second making a draw a fair result. But still, more questions have been raised over the team selection…as per usual.
The Saddlers boss is being very persistent with Wrack at full back, while Danny Fox is seen as a wing wizard. Erm…I don`t think so.
Villa`s Zoltan Steibler (number 17 to everyone else) was running so many rings around Wracky, he seemed to think he was in the logo for the Olympics…no joke. He just isn`t a full back, but I can understand the need to play him there while Rhys Weston is injured - not that there isn`t any other full back`s in the squad in the shape of an Mark Bradley or Richard Taundry.
And again, I have to moan and groan about Danny Fox on the left-wing, while Ishmel Demontagnac is left on the bench. Fair enough, Ishmel is banned from the first two games of the season, but what about Wrack on the left, or even Sonko and then Paul Hall on the right-wing, while Bradley fills in for his fellow Welshman. Then there`s a thing that I like to call balance.
Foxy seems to want to come inside too much and play a completely useless cross field ball, which I can only presume was aimed at Stan in row B, block B of the Family Stand. I couldn`t see anyone else in a white shirt wanting the ball, could you?
If Fox is going to be used in midfield, he must be played in the centre with Danny Sonner, while Michael Dobson drops to the bench. You cannot play Sonner and Dobson in the centre together because neither gets forward and scores any goals. To be successful, you need to have goals from midfield - e.g. we won the title last year and our top scorer was Dean Keates, who is a midfielder.
I rest my case. On a rare positive note, I was impressed with Sonner, but I was equally as impressed with Walsall`s new bruiser, Paul Boertien. He likes to get forward and cause a few problems and brake people`s legs, mainly oncoming winger`s limbs at that. Clayton Ince was ever solid in goal, and that brings me onto my next and final point.
Walsall will have a very strong defence next season, especially when Weston is fully fit, but there will be a lack of goals if Ishmel doesn`t play regularly next term. If he is left out like last season because of his foul temper, which is a sacrifice I am willing to pay just to use his talent to be honest, then I fear the worst.
Danny Fox thinks we can win the title again - he might be right, but it will the same one as last year, only it will be after this season if we do.
After all that, I still trust DD.

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Writer:Saddler 13
Date:Wednesday August 8 2007
Time: 1:35AM

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13 Bristol Rovers 20 7 6 7 27 -6
14 Oxford 20 7 5 8 26 0
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17 Northampton 20 6 6 8 24 0
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