Players to blame?


Yesterday’s ‘performance’ was nothing to do with ability, confidence, refereeing or luck. Oxford United simply wanted it more. Our ‘defending’ for their first (when Oxford had a player off the field having received treatment) was typically awful. And the second goal, well?!

Around the 60 minute mark I noticed one our attacking players take a small step forward, feet firmly planted on the ground rather than jumping to challenge their full-back for the ball. He seemed reluctant to try to win the ball for fear of being challenged. Really, what chance have we got?

Week in, week out - same mistakes, even worse their attitude stinks.

These players have now got through two managers - one popular with fans, the other a genuine legend.

So far, they have a got an easy ride in my opinion. Not any longer.



I think if you try to break down what’s happening on the pitch you’ll find we’re not actually a team as such.

My guess on yesterdays debacle is that Deano had already had words with JB (in the mid week maybe) and it was a last chance saloon chat

At HT Deano possibly read the riot act and the lack of team spirit and cohesion got laid bare in front of us all as they capitulated against what was in all fairness, a very ordinary but well drilled Oxford side that had Robinson’s bastardry written all over it

On reflection, the players didn’t want it yesterday - the question is, why?



Devlin , Leahy and Guthrie all had to go in the summer. Yes they were under contract but the club/manager had to find away.

Those 3 oxygen thieves along with bringing back Osbourne and signing Ismail put the nail in the coffin. And don’t get me started on the likes of Ferrier.

These players are as much to blame as the manager.



Its funny how we see things differently. I saw a team yesterday most of whom were trying hard —too hard perhaps! However we
we were disorganised and outnumbered in midfield. The two midfielders(Osbourne and Dobson) were often ,in the first half, in the wrong positions. Oxford were able to exploit the gap between them and our back 4 as many other teams have done this season.
One or two other points: Where was Joe Edwards? Why was Blackett-Taylor who looked out of his depth yesterday still on the pitch after 90 minutes? I agreed with bringing Cook back but surely we could ha have played 3 behind him in a 4-2-3-1 system?
I think that we had enough decent players to see us safe this year and the reason we are in such trouble is the management of the team. I think the decision to replace Ismail with Norman sums it up for me.



That’s a pretty spot on assessment I think.

From seeing the highlights though, I wonder what inspirational words keates uttered at half time. Unlike the rubbish someone spouts above, the one player you can rely on to be 100% committed is Devlin and yet the third goal has a real look of a player who just can’t be bothered with it any more.

Yes of course the players must accept their share of the blame, but the fact is that a football club has a manager, coaches, a performance coach etc to ensure that the players are consistently on the top of their game and ready to be fully focused in each game and we’ve found to be wanting in that way week after week. Name any players who we can say have improved under keates management? That was the accusation always lazily chucked at Whitney and yet players who performed ok under him have gone backwards this year (Morris would be the most extreme example).

There is a slight chink of hope if we get a quick appointment who can lighten the atmosphere a bit, set the team up right and get inside their heads and get them up for the last few games, but it’s a huge and unlikely ask. Keates and his team have done too much damage.



Keates was obviously out of his depth - equally as much as Whitney - but these players need to take a huge look in the mirror. The core of this squad are just not good enough and have on many occasions embarrassed us as Walsall fans.

The time for blaming Keates is now over. For me, he’ll always be remembered for that volley at Swindon, not for how this current lot have sold another genuine Walsall legend down the river.

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I agree with what a few others have said previously about Cook - theres no doubt the team plays completely differently (obviously) when he’s in it and then seems to struggle adapt to his return, looking all out of sorts and lacking any real threat etc but that itself is the symptom of the problem…

If the other players and the coaching staff can’t accommodate changes in squad, formation and team selection then they are not the professionals required at the club.

There were many factors in our downturn of early season form (although i still feel personally that Russell Martins arrival was pivotally negative) but if the team/squad can’t rotate around a number of different formations then something is seriously wrong.

I appreciate all this is water under the bridge but I ask myself…

Dean bought in lots of backroom staff - was this a mistake?

Was Deans experience more suited to well drilled, familiar players that knew their roles but could adapt?

Did he bring in too many new players and in effect, throw quantity not quality into the mix?

Whoever takes over next (temp or otherwise) he’d batter be a good man manager because serious questions need asking…



The job of a manager is a) to bring in the right players and b) to prepare the team correctly for games. Keates failed miserably at both.

It’s possible to separate out the two roles…as a player, I’ll remember a gritty, determined player who is rightly classed as a Walsall legend. As a manager, I’ll remember a complete mess of merson-esque proportions



Some of players in Whitney’s second season went backwards in performance and development as well. That may not fit the narrative Been pushed here, but it’s true.



Yes they did, you’re correct, but nowhere near as much as they have this season. You are right though. Leahy started off like a world beater and has gone backwards ever since.



Anyway, collective responsibility is the key here. Keates has massively screwed up and rightly been removed although probably too late. But I have little confidence in some of these players pulling their fingers out for the last few games. Move them on in summer asap.



Said exactly the same yesterday on Twitter. They’ve seen the back of two managers, neither good enough in their own right, but passionate about the club, and that should’ve been enough to see them through.

The attitude I see is a massive problem. Leahy pointing fingers at other players all the time, yet being completely inept himself just can’t go down well in the dressing room, even Cook appears to have a real bad attitude towards others at times. I suppose it shows a lack of real leaders on the pitch, too many shirkers who are just too happy to blame others. Then you’ve got the likes of Devlin and Gordon who have cupped their ears at the fans, and Leahy posting ■■■■ on instagram after on of our only wins in the last 4 months. The attitude and professionalism stinks.



Completely agree he was out of his depth, but these players are the ones truly to blame for me. The gutless nature of yesterday’s performance was all too familiar, across the reign of two managers there’s a core group of players who have consistently thrown in the towel and shirked the responsibility when it’s really mattered.

As I say, Keates was not up to the job, but as Phil says, the attitude and professionalism of this lot really does stink.



Please say this is sarcasm? :grin:



You’ve forgotten his first 6-10 games for us? He was our biggest attacking threat and looked excellent. I can’t remember the formation he was playing in then, possibly 5-3-2



I remember Bury away first game of the season, Rotherham away as well during that time, just a couple of examples where the trio of Guthrie, Leahy and Devlin have completely embarrassed us.

They’re not good enough, just look at Oxford’s second goal yesterday, what can Keates do about that? It was literally a professional football player completely missing the ball under no pressure what so ever to let them score.

I’ve been critical of Keates on here, probably a bit harshly at times, but for me this mess is mostly on the shoulders of the players.

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There you go, when we have agendas (and we all have them) we miss the bleeding obvious. Yesterday’s second goal…the fault lies with left hand side players, in particular I think it’s Blackett Taylor who fails to track his man’s run, giving him a free run into the box and a hard low cross. Maybe there’s some culpability on Devlin, although I’m not fully convinced, but the goal stems from way before his involvement, as have most goals this season but some folk choose only to focus on the role the defenders have played instead of the whole team.

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Mate, I’m sorry but you can’t excuse a bloke who literally air kicks a simple defensive clearance in his own six yard box. These simple, stupid errors are indicative of players who just aren’t good enough. If it was a one off then fine, but there have literally been countless amounts over the past two seasons.

Completely respect your opinion btw, I just disagree on where most of the blame should be apportioned. I’ll be at Accrington, but I will genuinely find it difficult to support this lot.

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As you say, we can respect each other’s opinions and, as I say, we both have our own agendas and sometimes can’t be budged from them. Good on you for being there to support, let’s hope we can turn the tide and do enough to stay up.



I have to make one comment to think about though. You say the air kick is indicative of a player who is not good enough. That might be the case. But you were arguing that the players were failing to put in the necessary effort. That’s an entirely different thing. Now if you’d said the third goal…that’s a player who can’t be bothered and that’s the hugely worrying one because Devlin clearly isn’t that sort of character, and only a few weeks ago, people were generally praising him for his commitment and desire. That’s why I worry that nobody can turn these players around in time, they can’t just"snap out of it", that’s not how it works unfortunately.