What's going on with Walsall's defence?

The next episode of the Yellow Ribbon Podcast is here, and we are discussing the curse that is plaguing the Saddlers.

Walsall have conceded more goals in the closing moments of matches than any other League Two team. We look at the shaky defence, what can be done to improve it, and how the changes by Sadler are not benefitting the team during matches, and also make the case for a forgotten man.

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A worthwhile listen, and if the length of 57 minutes seems a bit much, you can do what I did and hear the whole podcast in less than half an hour at double speed.

My answer to the main topic of the podcast, “What is going on with the defence?” is that in each of the back fives that have started so far this season, we have had just one good quality defender, and he is carrying the other four, and not receiving much help from midfield. Four out of our back five look better going forward than when defending.

Thanks Bernie, glad you enjoyed it!

I think Farquharson will be a boost for that back three as his main purpose will be to just simply defend. But perhaps that is the optimist in me

I have been supporting Walsall too long to be optimistic. Perhaps PF will be an improvement, but he did not convince me in the friendlies.

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In answer to the question posed above…Inexperienced and not only that but learning to play together.

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I listened to the podcast and when you hear it laid out the way it was it’s quite sobering.
Are we a work in progress ? Absolutely
It’s very early days, nobody has been relegated or promoted but it’s actually alarming even at this stage of the season to think how quickly we need to sort out our frailties at the back.
Great podcast though.

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I think it’s mainly due to individual errors rather than being systemic, I’m sure the experienced defenders along with the coaching staff will sort it out eventually but let’s hope it doesn’t take too long or that’ll be another season down the pan. At least we’re not alone, even Hollywood Rovers are suffering defensively :joy:.

Football is not a game where the defenders defend and the attackers attack. Defence involves every player on the pitch. Attack involves every player on the pitch. Under flynn, defence was first and foremost and the midfield, in particular, was first tasked with doing their defensive duties, quite often to the detriment of their attacking play. Hence we’d often have 8 or 9 players back defending when the opposition had the ball. Sadler is clearly setting up differently, with more of an emphasis on the attacking side of things- everyone seems to generally agree with this. At the moment, the flipside is that there are more gaps when the opposition attack because we’re not collapsing back into an 8 man defence. My expectation would be that, over the course of the first half of the season, a reasonable balance will be settled upon.


while the Crewe result was frustrating I’d rather us play like that then the boring football under Flynn where we didn’t look capable of scoring in most games


Evans had a great understanding with White/Daniels/Monthe last season It will take a bit of time to get to that level of communication and confidence with the current back 3 but its very early days. The good news is we look like we can score a lot of goals this season so if we can get the defence sorted it will be a good season oh and i enjoyed the podcast. Good analysis of Jamiel Matt too rather than the usual “he is sh*t” you tend to hear.


When Flynn had DJ we were doing OK, and scoring enough to win more than we lost. In the last 12 matches he played for us last season we only lost 1 and won 9. I enjoyed that period, when a tight defence coupled with DJ’s goals gave us success.

Sadler has got DJ and in Draper a brilliant partner for him, so we have a great attacking threat. Unfortunately, we now have a poor defence, which means that we are losing a lot more matches than we are winning, despite scoring goals.


A bit early to come to that conclusion . We have lost 2 and won 1 in the League.


With our attacking play improving it only makes our sitting back tactic even more frustrating.

Historically, in this division for the most part, teams do well that keep it tight and pose a threat to nick a goal. It’s how we have usually got promoted in the past. Gillingham are currently looking like this kind of side this year, Flynn wasnt too dissimilar while he had DJ last year.

I cant recall too many free flowing sides with this so-called expansive football getting promoted from the lower leagues since 1991 when I started watching.

But hey, what do I know. We could start a trend. I know the high scoring games will soon seem less appealing if we are losing and drawing all the time


Got to agree with that. There was a lot of “I want to see attractive football” on here, when actually without wins people will soon turn against the regime.
However, so far this season looks like this league is going to be a goalfest, with only Wimbledon and Gillingham looking tight in defence.
Hopefully we can see out the 4-2 wins at home. :crossed_fingers:

I think you’re pretty much right there but maybe it depends on expectations? Personally, a more entertaining season where we finish above mid table and actually have a better second half of the season than first (because we really start to settle into a good balance between attacking prowess and defensive stability) will be a relative success and set us up for 24/25, with many key players already contracted.


I know it’s early but this Our worst defence In our current league 2 years , maybe even since the days of Chris palmer
I know it’s early doors but i have never seen us tore apart so easily as a unit or make so many mistakes as we currently so
If sadler don’t sort it our defence will get us relegated however many we score
I can see a lot of walsall 2 other team 3/4/5


3 down vs Brighton’s kids now
How do we fix this?

Sign a proper right wing back for a start Foulkes shouldnt be playing and Knowles is putting a square peg in a round hole again

Think we need a new cb , rwb, cdm
Go 4 at the back
Play players in their actual positions rather than defender in midfielder, striker on the wing, lwb at cb and whatever Matt is