Things are not going well for Brian Dutton at Walsall. Another week without a win has been and gone. These games against the teams that are fighting to maintain their football league status, feels a big chance missed. The gap between the bottom two has decreased to 6 points, which is a kick in the teeth, considering Dutton was aiming for a play-off push when taking over the role.
The fact of the matter is that Walsall have a coaching team that is severely lacking. Last summer, Marcus Stewart left the club to move closer to home. He was replaced by Mat Sadler, which was a pleasing appointment, given his experience and respect in the dressing room. It looked like Sadler would be playing less football too, which has not proved the case. This change of personnel was one that would leave the coaching staff slightly weaker, given that Sadler would not be coaching full time, as he would need to train in the player/coach role.
Then came the move that has stretched the backroom even further. With Dutton stepping up to head coach, and Sadler becoming his assistant, the coaching team has been depleted. Dutton, Sadler, Bradley and Taylor are the four leading things on the coaching front, and since Clarke’s departure, Sadler has played every minute. It has left Dutton with very little support, and given his inexperience, is hindering the squad.
Whatever happens with the incoming Director Of Football, and Head Coach position, there has to be an effort to recruit an efficient, and full coaching team. Players who were developing well, are regressing, and the results on the pitch speak for themselves. The best and brightest players in recent weeks have been the academy products, who need a continuation of good coaching if they are to progress further.
Player unhappiness spilling into the public domain
Brian Dutton has spoken about the team, and the mentality right in recent weeks. However there have been three incidents that would show that the players are not happy. After the game, Max Melbourne tweeted a yawn emoji. Melbourne was substituted off at half time, and he clearly wanted to express his frustration at the game. The tweet has since been deleted, however it was picked up on by many fans. The big problem is that this is not an isolated incident. With Melbourne looking good in his loan spell so far, the apparent dislike of things won’t help with trying to tie him down at the end of the season.
Since signing last January, Jack Nolan has found game time very difficult to come by, and his frustration has also spilled on to twitter. In recent weeks, Nolan has liked a string of tweets that mention him, and are focussed around him not playing. The tweets have often not been directed to him, and simply mention his name. It is a big indication that Dutton has lost parts of the dressing room. Although Nolan has not replied or said anything in the media, the number of tweets, and length of time it has been going on for, is a sign that he is unhappy about his game time, and is venting it publicly.
The final, and most public example, is Jayden Reid returning from his loan spell after Walsall and Birmingham agreed a mutual termination. The statement, which was made on Saturday morning, was brief, and is an indication that the player and parent club were not happy with the agreed game time. This is the second Birmingham City player to come on loan, and return with little to no game time. Although Reid was a signing made by Clarke, his lack of game time is something that has frustrated fans for multiple reasons. Firstly, it is a concern that Walsall will have severed ties with a local club. The lack of game time has also been a talking point with Walsall’s attack looking unlikely to score. Reid was not given much of a chance to try and show what he could do, and given the lack of goals, will have wondered why others were higher in the pecking order.
Change is needed, fast
All these examples, along with the backroom issues, can be resolved. It is clear that Dutton is struggling. Pomlett has to make the decision now as to whether Dutton will be the man to take the club forward. If so, then they need to bring in some help behind the scenes. The Director of Football is a step in the right direction, but Dutton needs immediate help on the training pitch, especially with the results the way they have been. Bringing someone else in to coach, would also help the players who are unhappy. It is a new face to impress, and someone that may advise Dutton on different tactics and players.
If Dutton is not the man, then they have to replace him quickly. Fans want Dutton gone, however with a threadbare backroom, he would need to leave with an immediate replacement coming in. The Director of Football will be responsible for the Head Coach role, and the recruitment of it. With the club seemingly happy with the way things are, a statement with a plan would be helpful. Fans have spoken about the need for a Head Coach, and many would be eased at the thought of a search for a new one once a DoF is onboard to aide that search.
Whatever the decision by the board, fans want to know soon. The radio silence after each bad game has been deafening, and with many supporters disillusioned with the club, and the relegation battle they face, action needs to be taken to get them back on side.