The Bradshaw problem

A look at the difficulty we’ve had trying to replace our leading marksman from the past two seasons.

I saw a journalist on Twitter recently claim that signing Billy Sharp would ‘guarantee you promotion from League One’. And it’s hard to disagree, with 26 goals so far this season the Blades currently sit on 91 points and are looking forward to next season in the Championship.

It seems pretty simple, find a consistent goalscorer and you’ll be challenging at the right end of the table before too long. This may explain the disappointment from the Walsall faithful after losing our own 20 goal a season man in the summer of 2016, Tom Bradshaw.

Fast forward to the present day and it’s been plain to see how much we’ve missed Bradshaw. Our current strike force of Simeon Jackson, Amadou Bakayoko and Andreas Makris have barely mustered double figures between them in the league and in such a competitive division a clinical finisher can so often make the difference.

So, where do you find these goalscorers?

Bradshaw himself had a fairly innocuous background before joining the Saddlers, benched by Shrewsbury and offered a reduced contract following their relegation to League Two in 2015, he joined for a small compensation package with a muted fanfare. But it didn’t take long to see his natural ability in front of goal and his willingness to improve his all-round game. Personally, I think a lot of Bradshaw’s development has to go down to the work of Dean Smith and Richard O’Kelly, unfortunately I just don’t have faith in Whitney and his staff being able to develop Bakayoko and Makris in the same fashion and Jackson, well let’s just say that two year contract seems a bit wasteful at this stage.

We will most probably go into next season with the same attacking trio, but I really believe our success or failure will be determined by whether or not we can either recruit well in the forward area or Whitney and his staff can prove me wrong and accelerate the development of Bakayoko or Makris.