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Problems can only be fixed with the right tools

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Tension is mounting at Walsall – both on and off the pitch.

There are a whole host of issues leaving fans frustrated.

From leaking toilets and a lack of refreshments to woeful defending that has seen the team concede 17 goals in six games.

Everywhere you look there seems to be a problem.

And if they aren’t sorted quickly, you get the sense things will soon turn ugly.

It’s important to classify Walsall’s problems into short-term and long-term issues.

In recent weeks, complaints have been made about the toilets, refreshments and the number of turnstiles open on a match day.

The club is aware of the problems. And really, it shouldn’t take too much to fix them. They should be fixed for today’s game with Scunthorpe.

Another short-term issue is tightening up at the back and making sure the club retains it’s League One status.

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Again that’s more than achievable.

Everyone got a little bit carried away back in August when the Saddlers started the campaign with a seven-match unbeaten run.

It’s now fair to say they won’t finish in the top six this season.

But on their day they have shown they can match anyone in the division. Sunderland, Barnsley, Luton and Peterborough will all testify to that.

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At their best, the Saddlers are organised, well-drilled and carry a goal threat. At their worst, they make kamikaze mistakes and leak goals.

But they can compete in this division and they have more than enough potential to finish in or close to the top half.

Now it’s a case of moving on from this six-game winless run, getting back to basics and picking up points against sides around them in the table.

What will help massively with that is new additions this month.

The squad needs strengthening.

It needs more steal, nous and quality. But it also needs new recruits to give everyone a lift.

As Chris Marsh said in his column this week, signings boost fans but they also boost players.

They freshen things up and bring a touch of belief.

It is understood Keates is closing in on a number of signings who hopefully will arrive next week.

With those additions, some hard work and a bit more confidence – Walsall should have enough to haul themselves away from danger.

Then we move to the long-term.

Keates is likely to make wholesale changes to his squad in the summer.

When he tore apart his Wrexham team, he rebuilt from the back. That side – as everyone knows – went on to break the club’s clean sheet record.

But the 40-year-old hasn’t been able to do that at Walsall, with a host of players still under contract.

Keates will look to make changes but his quotes this week were telling.

“We are not always going to be the highest payers,” he said.

“Agents are always going to come to us at the end of it (the transfer window).”

Without doubt, the budget is always going to be at the root of Walsall’s problems.

Whatever your opinion of Jeff Bonser – and there are strong opinions out there – the owner is easy to sum up in black and white.

Bonser is a chairman who isn’t prepared to invest vast sums of his wealth into the football club.

There may be a logic to that.

But the bottom line is, the vast majority of clubs are willing to spend more.

Walsall have walked into the market with pennies rather than pounds.

They can still compete, Keates showed that in his playing days. But it’s getting harder.

It’s policy at Walsall that needs to change. Whoever the manager is, more needs to be spent on fees and wages.

Fans know it. They protested last year. And protest talk has risen again. But there is nothing at Walsall that can’t be fixed.

People just have to be given the right tools for the job.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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