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Norwich (h) - League - 19th April 2003

Reports and reaction from the 2002-03 season as Walsall finished 17th in Division 1
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Norwich (h) - League - 19th April 2003

Wed Dec 08, 2004 9:14 am

By Stu ( on Saturday, April 19, 2003 - 09:51 pm: Edit

About time some people started realising some things now. For the first time today, I really was tempted to walk out with 20 minutes to go today. Not because of the match, the tactics or the players, but because of that stupid moronic minority of fans.

1) Why the booing when Corica replaced Junior? Junior was very poor today, I was only surprised it wasn't done earlier. I presume the booing was because people wanted to see Pedro as Pedro is the wide man to supply the ammunition, or so some people keep saying. So surely they didn't want Pedro playing down the middle did they? Or did they want Jorge on his own up front?

2) What on earth was the "There's only one Pedro" chant for? The man has had two full seasons in Division 1 before this, he failed to impress in both of those and the same can be said this season. A few decent sub's performances and suddenly the sun shines out of his arse! Well, news-flash, he proved in his 15-20 minutes why he is on the bench. That lethal left foot and great crossing ability that people talk about managed to pick out the man at the near post twice and the keeper twice. Whoppee-dooo.

Do these people have memories that last any longer than 3 games? Most amusing bit was seeing Corica get the ball 30 yards from goal and running sideways, people screaming at him to play it early to Pedro. Instead, he held on to it before threading it inside the full back, a great ball. Pedro picked out the keeper at the near post as the reward!

I've nothing against him, but we know he hasn't delivered the goods regularly. So why the sudden 'Pedro is great' campaign?
It seems as though the minority of fans would prefer us to go gung-ho all out attack for wins at the moment, instead of seeing the benefits of ensuring we hold on for a single point.
Our last three games have seen us take 5 points and only concede 1 goal. We may have only scored 1, but that is down to poor finishing rather than a lack of chances.

Even my brother, who very rarely gets too wrapped up, said he'd be surprised if Lee continued to put up with this. Did people really expect a season much better than this? So what if this is the best Walsall squad ever, it doesn't give us a divine right to mid table! It doesn't mean this squad is good enough for mid-table it isn't.

Final moan, I got to the 3rd page of the fanzine before folding it up as I waited to find a bin. The continual moaning and bitching is going to far. I get the impression that some would be happier spending Tuesday night at Mansfield, Hartlepool or Rochdale instead of watching Division 1 football.

Our squad is made up of injury hit players, free transfers and 1st division rejects. How do people expect them to hit mid table 1st division? If they were that good, they wouldn't be on free transfers.

I'll probably get slated for this no doubt, but as this is a message board for airing opinions, I'm airing an opinion. The fickle-ness of some of our fans is embarrasing and I really do wonder if these people understand what they're watching.

Que onslaught...

By Exile ( on Saturday, April 19, 2003 - 10:21 pm: Edit

Well said Stu.

If people check where we are in the division and look along the games won/lost/drawn selections they'll see that we're languishing next to the drop zone courtesy of the amount of games we've lost instead of drawn. We've won 13 this season, on a par with Palarse, who are in 11th place, but only drawn nine, leaving us with the most lost games apart from Brighton and Grimsby.

I'm happy to take points off Norwich and Coventry, as I think they'll have expected all three from us. I don't think we've had "the rub" in several games this season, and you can't lay all of that at the manager's door as referees, crowds, the players themselves, pitches and everything else are all factors. Yes, the manager is the obvious target, but just because he is the most identifiable doesn't make it right to pick him out time after time for abuse.

Reality check - we've got no money. We can't afford the big sign-ons, and we certainly can't afford the big wages. We've done OK with what we've got, and setting ourselves up for another Division One season is a great result with the squad. Crowds are heading in the right direction, people are starting to believe we belong here instead of pinching themselves when they look at the league. I reckon JB might, just might, splash any surplus cash this close season on a couple of quality players. Let's hope we have some.

Cheers all

PS - good to see a quality local derby emerge as West Brom got relegated today!

By Cannock ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 12:07 am: Edit

Utter garbage Exile. Happy to take points of Norwich and Cov!! They are cack. As you live so far away i will excuse your ignorance as you are obviously of the opinion that both of these teams are of the calibre of bygone years.

Out of acorns etc etc. I am sick of this small town, small club mentality. We have a right to be in Div 1 as we earned it. With the players we have, we should be much higher up in Div 1. This year Div1 IMO is the poorest for a long while and there should be no reason at all why we are languishing amongst the relegation zones. The blame has to lie somewhere. I just hope it is sorted for next year.

We are no longer competing with Hartlepool, Colchester and Lincoln. We have moved on and there is no reason for the fans to temper their ambitions. Just because we have come from the slums into the higher echelons of football does not mean that we should have to return there. Start believing in yourself.

Believe in yourself and anything can be achieved.

By Ian Gittins ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 12:14 am: Edit

Excellent post by Stu. I guess every club has its dumb fans, but we seem to have more than our fair share. Take Corica, for example. He's clearly a touch/flair player whose game is confidence-based, so how do our intelligentsia react to him having a few off-days? Roundly boo and barrack him, making him less likely to try inventive stuff and more likely to hide or retreat into his shell... and get booed more! Brilliant! I also fail to see why he is regarded as Lee's coddled, indulged favourite - he hardly starts games nowadays, and when he does is invariably substituted.

Exile makes good points also. I remember that for years our local rivals were Shrewsbury Town and we'd fight for promotion from the old Div 3 with roughly equal gates. We're facing our third successive season in Div 1 now as Shrewsbury look set to exit the league. Managerially, the credit lies with Graydon and Lee. A few fans need to stop checking their brains in at the turnstiles.

By Cannock ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 12:39 am: Edit

Not forgetting Nicholl of course!!

By Stu ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 12:53 am: Edit

Cannock, you've hit my point exactly! Why, with the players we have, should we be much higher up in Div 1? Look at our players.

RG/PT were bringing in crap, we all know that. CL is bringing in a higher level of player, but not mid-table Division level of players!

Exactly which players that we've signed are proven first team regulars in mid table 1st division sides? Answer = none. They're squad members in 1st division sides, they're players the wrong side of 30, their players coming back from serious injuries.

How many of our current squad would get into those mid-table 1st division sides (Palace, Preston, Millwall, Rotherham, Gillingham, Burnley, Watford, Derby.)? Hand on heart, how many? I'll say two/three possibly, Walker (definitely) and Hay & Roper (both possibly). That's all. So, on that basis, how do you expect us to compete with those teams?

Quite simply. We can't. This might be the BEST ever squad we've seen at Walsall FC, but that means nothing when its still only the 17th/18th best squad in Division 1 at the moment. What it does highlight is just how far we've come in a very short period of time and what Lee has done to attract a better calibre of player than RG/PT. Because the likes of Ofodile, Garrocho, Herivelto, Harper, et al couldn't even get on our bench yet they were signed!

Its not about small club mentality. Its about realism and accepting that, at the current moment, we're still building. It doesn't happen overnight, it doesn't happen when you pay zero transfer fee's or very small wages.
People say "Rotherham and Gillingham have done it", but they've spent to get there! Rotherham's side has cost £600k from what I know(Pollit 75k, MacIntosh 125k, Mullin 100k, Lee 150k, Barker 100k, Byfield 50k). Gills have splashed cash and decent wages on players.

Look at the two teams that spent very little cash in this division over the last 3/4 years! Crewe and Grimsby. Where are they now?
To compete with those mid-table clubs, you need to attract players that could get into their side and at the current moment, we don't.

In my opinion, Lee is falling down because of his own success. Instead of signing dodgy foreigners, we're signing players with a bit of history or better background. Thus, people immediately expect the team to step up. What people haven't realised, is that the team has stepped up since these signings were made!

Without the likes of Sonner, Hay, Bazeley, O'Connor, Corica et al, we were going down. All credit to RG for what he did, but make no mistake about it, we were going down. The players and quality that Lee has brought in have moved us from a cert for relegation to a team that can scrap and fight for survival at this level. Unless there is neccessary investment to move to the next level (as there was to move to our current level), then we'll maintain this level.

Is the progress we've made in the pitch over the last 12 months not hugely visible already. Those players have made that progress, but we need a new calibre of player to make that next step in my view.

Under RG, the only player any team would have wanted from us is Walker. Under Lee, its Walker, Roper, Hay and Byfield (who was showing something else when Lee and DM came in). Is that not the progress we've made?

Too much too soon I think the phrase is.

By Stu ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 12:54 am: Edit

One more quick point, if Norwich are shite then why were they 8th in the league before this morning? You can't base a teams ability on 1 match you've seen when the other 42 matches they've played points to the fact that they're not shite.

By Exile ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 03:43 am: Edit

Utter garbage Cannock? You've taken one piece out of my post and deliberately misquoted me!

Go back and read it again. properly, with both eyes open, and If you have any trouble with the big words I'll talk you through it;-)

You'll find that I was positive about the future, but realistic about where we are. We've come a long way, and there's further to go, but that does not make us a big club now, nor does it make me a small town supporter either. Yes, I'm thousands of miles away, but at least that way I have to do a bit of research every week to find out what is going on back home. I might not see many games (one this year!) but I'm there every week through the match reports and posts all over the internet.

Sorry to say it, but league tables don't lie. I am well aware that both Coventry and Naarwich are shadows of their former selves, but they're both above us in Div one, by a few points or more, and their (not my) attitude will have been that we're a struggling small town club there for the taking. I don't think we are at all, and I thought I'd said that.

I certainly don't believe we need return to D2 to find our natural level - I think we've found it where we are (in D1, not 20th in D1 though!), but we need a few more people to believe that, to make the effort to go to games and generally spend more watching / supporting Walsall than we had this time last year. Unless the crowds go up, we're stuffed for cash, as everything else is flat-tack. So all this talk by waverers about us underachieving and them not coming back next year is rather self-defeating. I'm with you on the "anything is possible" bandwagon - my glass isn't just half full, my glass is bigger, brighter and better!


By Greg ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 09:33 am: Edit

Stu and Exile u both make some sound points. I drink in Bloxwich with whom I would consider to be some of the biggest anti-Lee fans we have. Though his Wolves background is sadly a small issue with them it is our under-achievement this season that really gets them savage. "We should have been in the p/os this season", "the division is shite", are just a couple of atypical comments. I cant help but conclude that the club themselves have raised expectations to a unrealistic level. Its a shame that the relatively small number who barrack Lee have the biggest mouths in the Black Country. I respect their views though as I know them to be home and away diehards. Dont forget these boys tolerated the most ball aching periodf in the clubs history under the biggest 'Dingle' of them all, Kenny Hibbit. I booed on Tuesday, not at Lee personally but at what I considered a poor 2nd half. The press are getting the idea we are all anti-Lee. NOT THE CASE.

By Surrey Saddler ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 09:58 am: Edit

Good points Exile and Stu. We have done OK this season. As Stu says we must face facts. It would be great if we were a big club, but at the moment we are not. Look at our stadium compared with others in Div 1 (with a few notable exceptions), look at our fan base. Other clubs get more than twice our gates. This is not being negative, it is being realistic. We need to build and progress. The potential is there but we need above all else to increase our fan base. All things follow from that. This can happen over the next few seasons if we continue to grow and become a real mid table Div 1 club. It also depends on the performance of other clubs in the West Midlands area- we are in competition for fans with them. Cannock is sick of this small club, small town mentality. Well so am I, but just saying "I am sick of it" changes nothing. Lee has done well with the players he has bought, but as has been said they all came from Div 1 sides and couldn't keep a first team place in their previous clubs- the same clubs that Cannock et al says we should get 3 points from. This includes the "wonder boy" Ainsworth who could not get into the Dons side. The cry on this board when RG was around was that we should sign proven 1st div players with lots of experience. That is exactly what Lee has done and we have survived. Now is the time to move on. Roll on next season. By the way, what was yesterdays game like? I have still to see a report. UP THE SADDLERS

By Neil Ravenscroft ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 10:00 am: Edit

So what was their excuse for booing yesterday at the end of the game? I was appalled by the reaction of a small minority at the end of the game and thought that it must be one of the greatest contrasts I've ever seen, that some in the Purple Stand stood up to applaud the team, while some were trying to get a boo going!

By Stu ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 10:16 am: Edit

Greg, I too was there under Hibbit, I was there under Barnwell. I've seen just as much tripe over the years, I had to witness us play Dale frickin Banton, I saw Scunny put 5 past us on a Tuesday night, Northampton put 5 past us on a Friday night I think it was. I've seen my fair share of tripe, and we see now is light years ahead of that stuff.

Its years ahead of the Graydon division 1 era, let alone the Hibbit and Barnwell reigns.

You say it isn't the Wolves background, but the under-achievement, but isn't that the exact point I'm making. We haven't under-achieved. What do they base this under-achievement on? Or, more to the point, can you please tell me why the expectation was there to start with?

Our players, on an individual basis, are not in the same league as some of the top end mid table teams, let alone the Play Off sides.

Anybody thinking we could even get remotely within reach of the Play offs was living in cloud cuckoo land. As I've said, and this is what needs to be understood, just because this is deemed to be the best squad ever seen at Walsall FC does not mean its a squad capable of mid table football. The best ever squad at Walsall FC is still only a bottom end of the 1st division side in my view. Maybe we could be 16th, but 12th, 10th, 8th? Not a chance in hell. As I said, how many of our players would walk into the other mid-table or Play off sides? Only one for sure, maybe another two (possibly, but I doubt it). So therefore, why are fans expecting us to compete with these very same teams.

Although, this is going off at a tangeant. My posting was regarding the idiots booing yesterday when Corica came on instead of Pedro, booing when Pedro came on (who did they want to go off?) and the fact that Pedro has proved he isn't good enough for level for the best part of three seasons, yet people seem to think the sun shines out of his arse. I just wanted one of those 'Pedro lovers' to explain what they're thinking or watching...

If we drive Lee away, I think we'll be worse for it to be honest. Do you think we'll get a decent manager coming to Walsall where he as a pittance to spend? Where he knows the cash won't be available for transfer fees? Where he knows he'll be expected to keep the club in Division 1 without these resources? Not a chance in hell, we'll end up taking a gamble on a lower division unknown (and we've seen that fail with RG ourselves, Parkin at Barnsley, Turner at Sheffield Wednesday) or we'll end up with Steve Cotterill who'll walk out when a bigger club comes along. Thats what we should be concerned about.

By Neil Ravenscroft ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 10:39 am: Edit

Surrey - there's one on our site, but here goes. Norwich played very much as they did against us last season, waking up only in small spurts, with their main threat being from set pieces. We played 3 5 2 again, with, after the first 5 to 10 minutes, the three at the back looking very solid (depsite Roper putting in their best shot, producing a wonderful save from Jimmy, who also made another good save early on and a fairly regualtion tip over from a 30 yadr Mulryne free kik towards the end).
Samways (Sponsor's MoM) and Robinson were immense, Lawrence looked threatening every time he ran with the ball. Junior had a reaaly off day, Jorge missed a good one on one.
Corica came on for Junior and looked OK, producing a couple of superb passes, while the crowd, for soem reason, were yelling for Pedro, despite the fact it was difficult to see how he would fit in with the formation. Lee did bring him on for Aranalde, with Carbon going to left back and a shift to 4 4 2, but, despite being played in well a couple of times, he couldn't find a telling cross.
We were the better side (just) and had the better chances, but didn't look like taking any of them.
The other results went well!
At the end, as you have probably gathered, a small minority at the back of the Purple Stand, tried to get a boo going, while, round me, people stood up to applaud the team. Funny day all round.

By Neil Ravenscroft ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 10:42 am: Edit

Sorry, it wasn't Surrey who said he hadn't seen a match report! He was there.

By Shifnalsaddler ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 10:44 am: Edit

One, I don't care about the ex Wolves thing. If Lee was doing the job I'd support him, but he isn't.

Two, Corica was booed because he is lazy. Yesterday, on the field for about 15 mins, Pedro breaks down the left, Corica is strolling forward, not busting a gut to get to the penalty area. When Pedro, with the ball, outpaces a player without it, there is something badly wrong. And not just "one off day" but months and months of them.

Three, MOC and Sonner came from a squad that were promoted, Bazeley from a squad that finished third (?), Hay from a Prem reserve team, Rodrigues likewise, Samways from Spanish summat or other, Walker, Roper, Wrack, Aranalde, Leitao and Barras all have a lot of games under their belt at this level, and if Aranalde is a weakness, who gave him a three year contract? Carbon and Corica are more than good enough at this level, the manager should get more from them.

Four, I said yesterday that it was nine good players in search of a system. The tactics are crap, the players look confused, we don't look well organised.

Five, the division might not "be shite" but it does look poor to me,not as good as in the previous two seasons. The promoted clubs didn't really invest, and the relegated clubs lost some of their best players, and squads have nbeen cut all round, with a couple of exceptions.

Six, big problems up front, why hasn't Lee acted to sort it out? Midfielders by the dozen, why no centre forward?

Seven, in over thirty years I have wanted Barnwell and Sibley sacked, something I shared with almost every fan. Sorensen I was glad to see go, but hadn't been calling for it. No one else, until now.

Eight, Ian Gittins, a few dumb fans. Because they can see the obseession with Corica has been damaging to the team this season? Because they can see we have under achieved?

Nine, there was a couple of pages of pro Lee stuff in the fanzine Stu, though I didn't write it!

Ten, the ones I know who are unhappy with this season aren't post Cardiff fans, many of them have gone for longer than I have, and have attended more regularly. They were there in the bad old days, they will be there next time we fall back.

Eleven, Stu, no problem with what you've written, though I disagree with it. You always seem to have thought about what you write, and to speak as you find. So no intended onslaught from me, just a different opinion.

Twelve, this much too long, time to go get on with the rest of my life.

Thirteen, postscript, agree that Pedro is a major disappointment. So why do so many seem to think he would improve our team? Interesting, I think. Maybe they can see we have zero width, and hope Pedro will provide it, however inconsistent he might be.

By Geoff Whiting ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 10:49 am: Edit

I didn't hear any significant booing at the end of the game yesterday, but if it went on I think it was out of order.

On Tuesday against Coventry I thought the booing was for Lee rather than the team. Like many I'd expected us to come out second half with CL's half-time rocket ringing in the players ears and we'd go on to take a vital three points against arguably the poorest team to visit Bescot this season. But as the game developed from half-time onwards I think everybody could see we needed width and Pedro's performances recently suggested that he should come off the bench and provide that. I know he is not the greatest player to grace a Saddlers shirt and struggles against the better sides, but Coventry are not in that category. He can beat his man, get to the bye-line and get in good crosses, there was clearly a need to change things, and to wait until injury time to bring him on was in my opinion just plain ludicrous. The "Too Late" chant that went up at the time, which I did not join in though it echoed my own sentiments, showed that lots of fans agreed that point. I thought CL got it badly wrong and I think the booing at the end, which I did not join in, was for him and not the team.

Yesterday was an entirely different game against a side that was workmanlike, but nowhere near promotion play-off quality. I thought we were the better side for long periods and took the game to Norwich in a way we totally failed to do in that 2nd half against Coventry. We should have won both games, of that I have no doubt, the fact we did not was, more than anything, down to our two inept front men who constantly fail to see or sieze their opportunities. Yesterday we made lots of opportunities, but failed to turn them into real chances - those few real chances that came along were all missed because we do not have a true striker worth his salt on our books.

We have Jorge whose chances to goals ratio must be no better than 5%, work-rate fantastic, strike-rate pathetic, a strange combination.

And we have Junior who loses/misses chances like they are going out of fashion mainly due to him having only one useable foot.

I read constant complaints that Jorge gets no service - and I agree - but that wasn't the case yesterday - he was given more than ample opportunities, and also set one or two up himself - but as usual he was found sadly lacking in the finishing department.

Having said this, the team worked hard yesterday, a point was enough with other results elsewhere and our main rivals still having games to play against each other.

I was extremely annoyed that we failed to win on Tuesday, but yesterday I'd say I was mildly disappointed with the result, no more than that. It's a funny old game !

So I understood the booing on Tuesday, I do not understand the same happening yesterday, it was unwarranted after that performance. Two 0-0 draws, but totally contrasting games.

Hopefully now we are all but mathematically safe we can maybe relax a little and put on a better show at Grimsby - they have to win, so we should get some good opportunities on the break, can Jorge and Junior take any of them, that for me is the question.

I expect nowt, but would happily take a point from this one.

Off to Wales now, shall listen in as much as possible on the radio tomorrow. To those who are going to the game, I hope you have a good day.

By Don Rogers ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 11:29 am: Edit

Shifnal - well said and I agree with almost all of it. We all get frustrated because the simple things all too often just aren't done well. Regarding Jorge/Junior, well, Junior is just a tad predictable - one footed, scared of heights and a little unstable on his feet - and if Jorge wants to run around and tackle - which he does - instead of scoring goals, how would he adapt to midfield?
Highlight of the match? Jimmy's save from Roper.
Disappointment? Only one black and white lorry on the M6 to moo at! Or maybe there was another when Pedro came on???
Overall feeling? A bloody sight better than Tuesday, but frustrating in the first half, much improved with the substitutions.
CL said on WM after the match that Samways wouldn't be stopping at the Bescot. What's that about?

By Moaning Saddler ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 11:50 am: Edit

Excellent post, Geoff - sums up the last two games very well.

For once, I think that Shifnal has got it a bit wrong - for example, the tactics yesterday would have been spot on if our two woeful strikers had taken only one or two of the opportunities that came their way. He is however right that the players look confused - not about the tactics, but about the pressure that the inadequate finishing of these two jokers heaps onto the team.

Overall, yesterday was a good performance, with the quality of Samways and Robinson shining through. They bossed midfield completely.

I am also getting fed up of the stupidity of some of our fans. As an example, towards the middle of the lower purple yesterday, one moron kept whinging about the "Dingle Taff" - this guy was so intent on letting everyone around him hear just how "witty" he was, he couldn't be seen to support a truly excellent performance by Robinson.

Lee deserved the boos on Tuesday. Yesterday, the team (Leitao & Junior excepted) deserved a lot of credit.

By Stu ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 12:06 pm: Edit

Don, Samways is going back to Spain at the end of the season. He made that clear when he signed for us.

Shifnal, fair points, I won't respond to all of them. But I will to point two.

I support the team to the hilt, but I just think there are a lot of unrealistic expectations because we're not used to signing players like Lee does. We're used to cheap foreign crap, so when we get somebody half decent, our expectations soar unrealistically.

O'Connor and Sonner did come from a team that was promoted, O'Connor played a fair share but Sonner didn't play often and the Blues fans thought he was a donkey.
Bazeley might have come from a Play Off team, but again wasn't playing football and hadn't played for a season due to injury. He was also rejected by Gillingham, a mid table side! Thus, my point, if they were that good why didn't anyone else want them.
Hay, so what if he came from a Premiership side. He only ever played 6 games for them and then spent two years injured. Although admittedly he is very good.
Rodgriguez, again, so what if he came from a Premiership side. His only first experience was at Bournemouth and Bristol City and he'd broken his leg twice.
Samways - 35 years old. Quality yes, but he has said he is only here for the short term till he goes back to Spain.
Walker, Roper, Wrack, Leitao, Aranalde. All good for us, but only Walker (possibly Roper) would get into the teams above us.
Barras - Exposed more often than not at this level, widely agreed.
Carbon - Performs when he is fit. He has had attitude problems everywhere he has gone.
Corica - Loss of form, but showed some promise yesterday with some clever play.

So, exactly. We signed a lot of players who weren't regular first team players, suffered big injury problems or weren't wanted by other 1st division teams.

You say they are all good players, but as I've said, they wouldn't get the sides you think we should be emulating.

I respect your opinion, even if I don't agree with it at times.

By Jorge14 ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 12:29 pm: Edit

Some brilliant posts above. Maybe I won't get as much backlash in the future if I dare to criticise the fans on the terrace as I did after Tuesdays game.

I wasn't at the game (family wedding) but I rang my brother who was at the game right after the full time whistle. I couldn't actually hear HIM but I could hear what was going on in the background, boos. I am, to be honest, disgusted. Colin Lee is not only a great football manager for Walsall but he is also a shrewd business man who knows the limits to Walsall's money. If the small minority continue to criticise him he will go. He will walk out because he will not accept criticism when he has done a great job.
Okay, from what I've read and heard the game was poor but, as Stu I think said, why the sudden "We want Pedro" campaign? Back in August he was getting jeered because he wasn't good enough, that's why he got dropped back in August. He hasn't suddenly become a world class player since August has he? I said on Wednesday and Thursday that I surprised that Corica didn't come on and I think that bringing him on in front of Pedro is a better idea, unless the opposition right back is absolutely knackered and/or is slower than Pedro. The fact is that Corica can make stuff. And before Sheff leaps in to bite my head off I am well aware that I've had a go at Corica earlier this season.

If Lee walks out and we get in a "high profile" manager who spends money we will go into the red, and we will end up bankrupt, and there will be NO comeback ala Leicester, Bradford and Hull, because they have bigger fan support and are actually higher profile clubs. And why? Because a small minority didn't look at the bigger picture and realise that actually, Lee is doing a great job.

I really hope it doesn't happen, much more than I didn't want Graydon to get sacked. I'm off up to Grimsby as I've been to all but a couple of away games this season and I hope to see all you lot there, because we need to show our support for Colin Lee.

Up The Saddlers

By Surrey Saddler ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 01:43 pm: Edit

Neil, I did not make the game, so thanks for the report.

By Alan ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 01:45 pm: Edit

Lee is not doing a great job.

Pardew, Moore and the fella at Wimbledon are doing great jobs. Lee is doing an average job - and I wouldn't mind if we were attractive to watch, but we're not.

I think most of the booing is not anti-Dingle crap, it's frustration borne out of our negative approach.

The football we play is not going to put bums on seats. But giving him the benefit of the doubt, I'll wait until the Derby game (when we'll be safe from relegation) and see how we play then. Can I expect free-flowing attractive football? Let's see...

By Mike T. ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 02:03 pm: Edit

Cannock - I cannot see how you can describe Norwich as "sh*te" based on their league positions over last and this season. Surprisingly they did not show a great deal of passion yesterday but continued to try and play their passing game in the wind as indeed we did.
Shifnal - You may not agree with the tactics but how can you say the players look confused and we are not organised. The players carried out the 3-5-2 formation presumably as instructed - if Jorge had taken his chance (or passed to Junior) we would have been celebrating mathematical safety.
The problem with the 3-5-2 system at home as Colin acknowledged in the programme is getting the attacking/defensive balance right and having the ability to take the chances few as they are when they come. I believe it was a correct decision to take after the Preston game to stop the goal flow against. Colin was always believed to be a defensive manager by the Wolves fans I know - will he introduce a more expansive game now that we are all but safe. Junior to me is the biggest frustation - maybe to Jorge as well!! I am afraid on balance I think he is a luxury we cannot afford and presumably with Driller on his way out a new stiker will be needed for next season (or two if Gary Birch is not to be given his chance which hopfully he might get on Monday).
The season is rather limping to its conclusion without the drama of last year's escape. However it will have a successful conclusion, we will still be a first division club and hopefully Colin Lee will still be the manager. I seem to remember JB announcing after the opening of the Purple stand next season would seem prices being reduced and we would have on offer the cheapest first division football in the area (and the division?) Last night's Star states that the playing budget is also to be reduced compared to this year's. The choice of players in the summer will be critical but I hope the Walsall public support the club and the team in the combined efforts to become established as a First Division club and hopefully enjoy the experience again for a third time.

By Mark W ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 02:12 pm: Edit

My theory is that those anti-dingle tossers are actually Albion fans who do not travel away.What history have we got with Wolves --none.Why doesnt Carbon get the same abuse?
When we stay up it must be classed as another successful season.I for one am quite happy to achieve this moderate success for as long as possible.All credit to CL.We can play a team of 11 ex-wolves players as far as i'm concerned if they perform well for us.
Some people need to take a reality check and look at clubs of a similar size and bigger to ours i.e Bristol Rovers/Oxford etc.. etc...

By Fish ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 03:36 pm: Edit

The anti-dingle tosser that sits behind me in the Banks's is unfortunately a season ticket holder.

Throughout the game yesterday he carried on a tirade of abuse aimed at Robinson, ' **** off back to the Dingles'... '***kin' Dingle w*nker' were amongst his most frequent and lucid contributions.

This cretin never once let Robinson's excellent performance get it the way of his bigotry.

God help us.

By SheffieldSaddler ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 04:19 pm: Edit

Many interesting posts above. A question for Shifnalsaddler who continues to slate Lee week after week, who would you have at Walsall instead? I look forward to your response, I would be very interested to see the names, as Stu as already mentioned who is going to come to Walsall when they have not a penny to spend.
In reference to Pedro, he will be gone at the end of the season when his contract is up. He is not up to the first division and never will be. He has one good game in 10.
In reference to Corica, yes his season hasnt been the best, but you also need to look at him last season when he scored those goals to keep us in division one. He also has quality something which people like Pedro havent. He deserves the chance to be with us next season.
In reference to Colin Lee, he kept us in this division last season which was a miracle in itself, we will also be playing division one football next season, something that we have never achieved in our history. So give the bloke a bit of credit for gods sake. As mentioned by other people we were signing players that were squad players in the teams we got them from. NOT regulars BUT squad, theres a big difference.
I for one have not agreed with everything Lee has done this season but I do agree with 90% with what he has done under the financial restrictions he has no doubt been under.

By Stu ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 04:40 pm: Edit

Alan, so Pardew, Moore and the fella at Wimbledon are doing great jobs are they!

Shall we stop and compare clubs and squads here.

Reading - Money bags chairman, 30000 new stadium, bnakrolled to success by spending big tranfer fee's and big wages. Why do you think Luke Chadwick went there? Glen Little? James Harper? Nicky Forster? et al. Because they pay very good wages.

Rotherham - Okay, a club on a similar level. But, as I've said, a club prepared to invest heavily (in view of the size of their club) in players and wages. Off the top of my head I said their current squad has cost at least £600k (Pollit £75k, McIntosh 125k, Lee 150k, Mullin 100k, Barker 100k, Byfield 50k). Note, when Byfield left us Lee admitted that we couldn't compete with Rotherham in terms of the wages offered!

Wimbledon - Okay, a small-ish club but with a better reputation than we have. Do you think David Connolly and Neil Shipperly are on £1500 per week and came on free transfers? They shelled out nearly £2m I think it was on Gareth Ainsworth alone. Do you think Wimbledon would be doing as well if you took Connolly and Shipperly out of their team (give you a clue, those two have scored the best part of 40 goals between them I think).

So, I'll ask the question again. Bearing in mind our investment in players and investment in wages. How do you expect us to compete with that? How many of our current first team would walk into their current first team?

You seriously think we are under-acheiving. Rotherham know that if they're to progress, they must spend. Reading are bank-rolled, Wimbledon are lucky to have held on to the players they bought 2/3 years ago when they weren't in this situation.

By Salop Saddler ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 04:52 pm: Edit

Lee MUST stay. He's done what was needed. It wasn't pretty at times, but we'll be in division one next season. Clearly, we can play 'open' football, remember pre Xmas?

Corica MUST stay. He's had a difficult season, but he'll be okay next.

We MUST get a coach to work alongside CL.

We MUST get a bustling centre forward.

I MUST go, I'm booked on the nine o'clock ferry to Dublin.

Happy Easter to everyone!

By Shifnalsaddler ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 05:47 pm: Edit

Mike T, how can I say players look confused and not organised? Because that's how I see it.
Have we looked organised when conceding so many goals from set pieces? Or when conceding possession from throws in time after time?
or when failing to make much of our own set pieces? Did we look confused when Jorge played on the right wing at Sheffield? Or when we were lopsided against Pompey and seemed to have more players on one side of the pitch than the other (not for the first time). Do we look happy playing with so little width? You are right, a little more composure in front of goal yesterday and we could have won, but it isn't just about yesterday.

Stu, I think we are both right to an extent about the signings. We both agree they are good, you point out correctly they have had injury problems. However, I think that MOC, Bazeley, Sonner and Hay have all played, or been available to play, more games than we expected. So the fitness hasn't been that big a problem. I think they would get into other teams - fitness allowing. They are all good players, Carbon and Corica are good but with attitude problems, Walker, Roper, Wrack all good, all would attract interest from other first division teams I think, finances permitting.

Moaning, I agree, the finishing is poor, although I feel sorry for Jorge who works jolly hard. For me the even bigger problem up front is that we can't hold possession, and Lee has done nothing to sort out a problem that has been obvious for months.

Oh well, it's all academic anyway, JWB will do what he wants, either back him or sack him. I would be surprised though, if he was happy with this season.

By stevo ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 07:10 pm: Edit

Don - having read all the above and taking in everything said - you make the most in-accurate statement of all...there were at least 5 or 6 "cow" lorries to moo at, were you not paying attention - though I have to say the quantity was less than usual. Whilst on this point, I would suggest that a loud "moo" by the entire crowd should go up as the said lorries re-appear after the score board....anyone...come on join in, although it could be consteud as a "boo" if not careful.

By Don Rogers ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 07:39 pm: Edit

Stevo, humble apologies, the game must have been more interesting than I imagined!! I nearly drove off the M54 laughing a couple of months ago on the way home when Franksy on Radio WM WOULD NOT BELIEVE that we were not booing but mooing!! He does get indignant - just like yesterday - when there is a bit of dissention with the managers tactics. So what's new??? We pays our money. Anyway, a good natured "moo" does us all good. I reckon that a pint and a bag of crisps with CL would do us all - and hopefully him - a bit of good. Deep down, we DO appreciate his restrictions and most of us - I am sure - think that he does a very good job under the circumstances, even if inevitably - like on Tuesday - we do not always agree with his tactics. When I heard the "there's only one Pedro" chant yesterday, my heart sank because although it was obvious that a bit of width was needed, if I had been CL, there was no way that I would have put him on the pitch!! To CL's credit, he did, and along with Corica there was indeed a definite improvement. Oh, and another highlight of yesterday, the blonde sitting in front of me with low slung jeans and a high slung silk black thong! Perhaps that's why I missed the "moo" lorries.

By Don Rogers ( on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 07:43 pm: Edit

And also, I do not think that Zigor- whom I do rate as an intelligent footballer, and was too often yesterday left without help or back-up, was too happy at being substituted yesterday. There was most definitely a big sulk going on when he sat on the wall outside of the dug-out.

By Alan ( on Monday, April 21, 2003 - 02:31 am: Edit

Well, I think a look through the archives might be in order, because I'm pretty sure that when we made the signings of Sonner, Hay, MOC, Bazeley, Zdrilic and even Rodrigues, most people (even maybe you Stu) were raving about the quality.

I don't seem to remember anyone talking negatively about them only being squad players or injury-hit. Still I could be wrong, perhaps I dreamt about all the pre-season optimism generated by this board - even talk of a mid-table position.

Maybe I am being unrealistic. I just hoped that this season we might have progressed on the field - who can honestly say that we have?

By Stu ( on Monday, April 21, 2003 - 10:16 am: Edit

I think we can honestly say that we have made progress on the field. This time last season it was touch and go whether we would survive. Wasn't this fixture last season the 3-2 win at Forest, out of interest.

Where as this season. We've got no real worries of relegation and we're not biting our nails thinking "We need to do this, and hope Crewe/Barnsley/Rotherham lose at...". Instead, we can sit back and not worry.

Is that not progress? I always thought progress was classed as being in a better situation than the previous time. And we have, quite simply.

As for the signings. There was a lot of excitement with the signings, but as I've come to think, that's because we not used to signing players of such a background and from such a level. Maybe we as fans, myself included, got carried away by the fact that, for once, we weren't signing foreign crap and 2nd division free transfers. We were signing players from our level and above.

I am just as guilty of having unrealistic expectations. I think a lot of us had our heads in the clouds because we weren't used to such signings. These signings were so much better than what we were used to, but in hindsight, weren't maybe as good as we fans thought they would be. I thought we could get a finish of 14-16th, but in hindsight, when we really look at the signings rather than the names then maybe we were just OTT pre-season.

We were all on a high following a remarkable finish to the season, we'd made signings of the lik that we'd never made before and we were caught on the wave of euphoria that was going sweeping through the club. As the season has gone on, I've realised this. I just think that some people haven't. Its all well and true signing names, but when we look at their backgrounds it paints a different picture. That's all.

But we have made progress, that can't be denied. However little, we have made progress and that is an achievement in itself.

By ANoS ( on Monday, April 21, 2003 - 11:56 am: Edit

The signings made last summer weren't bad, but they all came for nothing. They were on bigger wages, yes, but only after Lee had taken us to the 4th (?) round of the league cup and the 5th round of the FA Cup did our finances improve and the squad strengthened. After all, we only had 14 experienced pros last August, and only signed Simpson after the cup game at Blackburn - before that we could barely afford to pay him.

When it came to the crunch, we couldn't even stump up 50k for Ainsworth. How many other First Division bosses, at a club which is financially safe, would settle for that? Credit to Lee, he just got on with the job.

And look at these great signings. First came Zdrilic, who couldn't cut it in Europe and hasn't done anything at Walsall. Then we had Bazeley, who's looked OK, but hadn't played regularly for two years, and is no spring chicken. Hay came at the same time, having not played for four years. Then we had Sonner, who started well but has already left. We had to re-sign a player deemed not good enough for us in Simpson, and people like Corica and Carbon, massive players for us this time last year, have been poor this season.

It amazes me that First Division survival is no longer good enough for some people. Whilst numerous clubs seem to be in trouble (Palace, Burnley, Millwall, Coventry, Derby) we've made slow but steady progress this season.

By Ian Gittins ( on Monday, April 21, 2003 - 11:59 am: Edit

Also, for a game on Saturday which could have clinched safety for us, we had a crowd that was 4,000 less than the next lowest in our division (not an accusation, I wasn't there, just a fact). We are working within restrictions, and while there have been frustrations this season, I think our glass is definitely half-full, not half-empty.

By Cockerney Saddler ( on Monday, April 21, 2003 - 10:35 pm: Edit

I'm with you Ian. And I was amazed at the boos and some of the comments I heard after the Norwich game. And since when has Pedro become the Messiah?
Terrific news about staying up. I too would like to push on into mid table next season – I think we're capable of it. But a lot of hard work has to be done and key positions have to be filled during the off-season. I think the defence is solid enough, but we need cover for MOC and a really dynamic box-to-box central midfielder. We also need one (if not two) centre forward with real pace (although I'd like to see Hawley and Fryatt be more involved with the 1st team squad.
Up the Saddlers!

By dpw ( on Tuesday, April 22, 2003 - 07:11 pm: Edit

Only a rumour, but I heard that MOC might be off to Mansfield?...

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