Writer: Alsop Richards
Date:Sunday September 2 2007
Walsall found themselves second from bottom as they failed once again to come up with the goods in our new higher division. Richard Money's excuse that the Saddlers had so far played against three of the top six sides in the divisons now seems spent. Dickie Dosh will now be leaning towards the old adage of debilitating injuries destorying his side, but the nightmare experience he promised Ronnie Jepson's side going into the match, was never on the horizon.
The patched up Saddlers, were missing Tommy Mooney and Danny Sonner plus the suspended Ian Roper. They took the field with promising youngsters Troy Denney and Mark Bradley. Gillingham had ex Wolves and Albion strikers Gary Mulligan and Delroy Facey, but were a ramshackle side that will once again struggle to survive this season.
Which made it even more disappointing that the Saddlers lost. The defence were given little protection by the midfield and were under constant aerial bombardment by journey man Facey. Mulligan fired the Gills ahead with a clinical finish in the opening stages. Daniel Fox then quickly replied, gracing the game with a goal that the game didn't deserve. But the Saddlers came back under the cosh and Mulligan put them back in the lead with a clever finish soon afterwards. At the stroke of half time there was more action at both ends from Mulligan and Denney who forced a smart save out of Simon Royce.
The Saddlers improved in the second half, but are quickly finding in the higher division, unlike last season, that they can't afford to keep playing catch up. The possession improved, the pressure was taken of the back four. Eddie (Sunshine) Sonko came on and impressed, once again. But the Saddlers couldn't find the scoring touch. Darren Wrack did hit the crossbar late on but the Saddlers weren't good enough to get a share of the points.
This result means that pressure, not much so from the fans but from the Media will be increaed on Richard Money. Journalists from Radio W.M. have been especially quick to criticise the negativity generated by the manager. Though the Saddlers faithful would request a new striker to come to the fore on loan, the fact remains that the Saddlers are not defending well. They have exceptional defenders, as shown last season, but they're switching off to often and making simple mistakes. To the aide of the defenders they haven't been offered much protection from Sonner or Dobson this season. Both midfielders seem to want to do the same job, while last season Dobson protected the back four and Keates supported the front two. Looking at the team as a whole, the solution for me would be for Dobson and Sonner not to play together. A combination pairing of Dobson and Sonko or even attacker David McDermott (played in midfield against Villa and impressed) would give the Saddlers midfield organisation and structure. This potential pairing would also give support to the strikers. But would Richard Money be willing to take the risk, it would seem unlikely.
It must be added that Money with his summer arrivals has not taken into account certain consequences. The arrivals of Sonner, Hall and Mooney has the plus side of giving the side valuable experience but also means that the trio are going to be prone niggling injuries, which has already happened. Also Money doesn't seem to have learnt his lesson from Par Cederqyst, in bringing in Canerio who's clearly not ready for first team action yet. England's League One is a far away from what he would have been used to, this may also be the case with Matwene Junior who arrived, this week.
Dickie Dosh's decision to put his faith in the Sun Tan man Paul Taylor, seems unwise and the Saddlers have missed out on valuable domestic targets this summer. Ian Moore-Hartlepool-free, Nicky Forster-Brighton-75,000, Leon Constantine-Leeds-frees even Jack Lester-Chesterfield-free. But it needs to be remembered Richard Money did a fantastic job last season but if form doesn't pick up and with Money's constant critique of the fans, Bonser will act sooner than later. But at the moment that's premature.
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Date:Sunday September 2 2007
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