To contrast a piece from earlier this week, here is a look at the reasons why Dutton should not be the man who takes the side on after his interim period ends. Titled ‘Reasons why Dutton should stay?’, the first piece looked at some of the positive things that keeping Dutton in charge would bring. Today, however, we look at some of the negatives, and whether these have a bigger part to play than the positives.
Bold promises, a world away from delivering them
When Dutton took on the role, he made some very bold, and very public comments about Walsall pushing for the play-off’s. He took the responsibility on his shoulders, by stating that it would be his fault if they fail to reach them. It was a big statement to make, and these are the types of comments that managers live and die by. He took a side that was sitting in 11th, and 6 points off the play-off’s with 20 games left to play. They were in reach of the play-off’s, however under his leadership, they have sunk 8 places, and are 16 points away from 7th.
There was a spell where Walsall were flirting with relegation, with the side seemingly unable to win a game. This was a worrying time for the club, and for the fans, who were genuinely concerned before the games against Southend and Grimsby, as a loss against either would have had huge ramifications for the team. The side are now 11 points clear of relegation, but the fact that this is even a topic of conversation, shows that Dutton has failed with his promise, as the side aren’t anywhere near the play-off’s.
Walsall are 2 points below 16th place. Finishing 16th will match their worst ever finish in the football league. Dutton started his role as Head Coach promising a top 7 finish, however he is realistically looking at matching, or finishing below that 16th place, something that he won’t want as a label.
Results and regressing players and a blunt attack
Dutton has only managed 3 wins in 18 games as Walsall Head Coach, picking up a total of 16 points out of 54 on offer. The form since Dutton has taken over has been nothing but poor. The side sit 21st in the table since the change in management, with Grimsby, Scunthorpe and Colchester below them, although Grimsby are level on points with the Saddlers.
This is down to the side not clicking, and players not performing as well as they had done. McDonald, Gordon, and Bates have all struggled in recent weeks, which is disappointing given how they improved last season, and at the start of this season. These three players are just an example, but it shows that for all the noise made about Dutton and his coaching skills, some players aren’t improving.
The biggest contributing factor to the slide down the table, and lack of wins, has been the fact that the Saddlers cannot score. In the last 18 games, Walsall have only found the net 12 times, which is the joint second lowest in the league in that spell. Obviously losing Adebayo is a loss, but the side haven’t been creating either, meaning that even if he was in the side, he wouldn’t be getting many opportunities.
The lack of goals will be an issue that Fullarton will be looking at for next season, however he can only do so much. Dutton is an inexperienced manager, with a poor record, it doesn’t look an attractive prospect for potential signings. When he was the assistant to Clarke, he had the lure of a No1 who had a track record of promotion behind him. That was something that could really sell the club to a potential signing, however at the moment, that selling point is not here.
There is a concern that a good Technical Director needs someone in charge of the team that is a real lure for players. This may work for younger candidates, as they will see the chances given to youth, but Walsall need experienced heads too, who may not be so willing to work with such a new, and unproven person.
‘The contact book’ is something that has been mentioned a lot, especially when the search for the Technical Director was on. Dutton has made claims about the players he has brought to the club, but it’s unsure how all the moves came about, and how much of a part he did play. Dutton doesn’t have the most experience playing in the Football League either. That doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t have connections and contacts, but it is something else that will need considering, as a rebuild looks on the cards.
Strange comments, Strange selections, and a turning fan base
Some of Dutton’s post-match comments have angered fans, especially when talking about pride in the draws against Grimsby. He has spoken highly of the team when they have not been easy on the eye, or the result has not been particularly good. This does not give the fans much hope at his analysing skills if he sees performances as positive, when they see it as negative.
Fans have also raised questions about some of the matchday line-ups. He reverted to 5 at the back, when the team had been looking good in a back 4. The attacking side of things has changed around frequently, when it may have been better to stick to a system for the players to get used to. The chopping and changing has settled, but it is still a guess on matchday what formation he will be playing.
Then there have been some personnel choices that have not gone down well with fans either. Norman has barely featured, with White and Leak preferred at RB. Norman had been having a very good season, so this has jarred with the fans too. Then there has been the decision to play Gordon in many different roles. He has played up top, and all over the attacking midfield. With Gordon low on confidence, no set position surely has not helped him get into a rhythm. Other players have also missed out, whilst those low on form have played.
Dutton has turned a large portion of the fans against him, and that is always tough to win back. The club must be concerned that it will play a part with season ticket sales, which they will desperately need to be high.