A Walsall fan's views ahead of the game.
Ahead of Saturday's game against the Saddlers at Adams Park, Dave from Walsall Web-Fans answers a few questions for us.
Last time I visited the Bescot your fans were demonstrating against the board, how are things now?
The demos were over a few issues, one of which was freedom of speech. Half a dozen fans were banned for speaking out against the owner. Thankfully common sense prevailed and a new chief exec unbanned them. Most Walsall fans are still against the way Jeff Bonser, chairman and landlord, operate. He no longer comes to games and no longer gives interviews to the media. Rent issues still rile the fans and the accounts showed that last year he took £462,000 out the club as rent. With no firm bids coming in to buy the freehold of the club, manager Dean Smith being given one of the lowest if not the lowest budget in L1 and the fact that Walsall are now in the bottom six, things are bubbling up again and you get the feeling more demos are not far away. Its not a happy situation between the owner and the fans.
Dean Smith made the step-up to manager in January, how's he doing as far as the fans are concerned?
He still has the backing of the fans who have faith in his ability to turn things round again despite his players being winless in their last seven games in all competitions. It's not as if Saddlers are being thumped, just losing by the odd goal. Several times this season his team have taken the lead, only to lose it and concede silly goals.
You escaped relegation by the skin of your teeth last season, what were the fans' expectations for the current campaign?
Deano, or 'Ginger Mourinho' as he was dubbed by the Saddlers' faithful, performed a miracle last season by keeping the team in L1. Everyone thought the club dithered too long in sacking Chris 'Coco' Hutchings and it was too big an ask. The expectations were to be a mid-table side, possibly in with an outside chance of making the play offs and certainly not to be towards the bottom end of the table at this stage of the season.
Where do you personally think you'll finish?
Pre-season I would have said 9th or 10th, just missing out on the play-offs. Now, two months into the season, my realistic hope is 16th.
How would you describe your current style of play?
A bit disjointed! Dean Smith likes to play the game in the proper way and has often stated as much. At times the team just resort to hoof ball which is futile as we have no tall forwards. He likes to play with two wingers but Claude Knapka has been out injured for a few weeks and Kevan Hurst's form has been erratic.
Where are you strongest - defence, midfield or attack?
Goalkeeping dept! Saddlers legend Jimmy Walker was instrumental in helping to keep the team up last term and has been in splendid form again this season. Whilst he was out of the side due to the complicated birth of his child, young David Grof stepped in and did well. Summer signing Mat Sadler has done well at full back, and centre back and captain Andy Butler has performed well. The midfield is lightweight and the attack don't score enough goals.
Who has been your best player so far?
When fit and playing Jon Macken. The 34 year-old forward holds the ball up so well and brings others into play and is inclined to bang in a goal out of nothing. Hamstring injuries to both legs have hampered his appearances this season and he is out for the Wycombe clash.
Of all the teams you've played so far, who has impressed you the most?
Notts County. When the teams met at Meadow lane a month ago they were below Walsall but have enjoyed a brilliant September and look to be a team to surprise a few. Lee Hughes was a livewire and scored a terrific goal.. Their entire team seemed switched on and focused and Martin Allen has soon got them working as a unit.
What do you expect to see from Wycombe on Saturday?
Hard to say really. Knowing Walsall's luck they'll probably play a lot better than of late!
Take a wild guess at the final score?
It's got 1-0 to Wycombe written all over it!
Vital Wycombe would like to thank Dave for his contribution.
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