A season of two halves

Exile @ 2:14 am Wednesday 24 March 2010

Another season is fast disappearing up it’s own backside and we’re well placed for midtable mediocrity, based on average performances. On the face of that’s much better than a relegation challenge, but after a couple of years of standard preseason sound bites from Roy Whalley about promotion, that’s cold comfort indeed.

The problem with the first paragraph is ‘average performances’. On results so far we’re on 47 points, 10 off relegation and cruising into the home stretch. Trouble is, if we look at how that season has progressed we see two very distinct halves.

In the first 19 games we gained 30 points, helped along by the November purple patch that gave us some hope for the rest of the season. We defeated Yeovil away to round off that half season on the 1st of December.

Since then we’ve played 18 games, won only 4, been dumped 9 times and gained only 17 points, including an 8 game streak without a win. Luckily we made those points in the first half of the season, as that’s relegation form whatever way you look at it. On this basis we’ll be lucky to see 55 points by the end of the season, and we’re doubly lucky that there’s some runaway good teams in the top 6 and plenty of dross surrounding us.

Chris Hutchings was appointed in January 2009 and has now had 15 months in the role as manager, after serving as Paul Jewell’s understudy (and sweeping up after him) for much of his previous career. Never stellar in previous caretaker roles, his record at Walsall has now been so patchy it can best be desribed as flattering to deceive. We’re so inconsistent there’s no tipping point, no crisis, no defining moment that shouts out loud “You don’t know what you’re doing”, but an accumulation of deflating performances, non-existent or ineffectual tactics, inexplicable substitutions, team sheets with good names missing or players out of position, and a succession of lacklustre games that leave every fan flat can say the same thing much more quietly.

Perhaps there’s problems further up the chain? We are all well aware of Mr. Bonser’s desire to leave contract negotiations to the last possible moment, the club’s financial shortcomings and the fact that other potential managerial candidates (and previous managers) have decided that Walsall was not for them based on personal financials and lack of future commitments. There’s a smell of short-termism surrounding Walsall FC, and that’s not good for a sports club that’s survived 123 years.

We need some progress. We need some leadership. Heck – we need some consistent football! Where’s that going to come from? Your guess is as good as mine. Consistently finishing in League One midtable is not my definition of a club going anywhere, but where is there to go when we can’t pay for a better squad and refuse to pay for a better manager?

Sorry there’s no answers in this monologue.

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