After relegation from League One, Walsall and Scunthorpe were deemed to have made excellent appointments in Darrell Clarke and Paul Hurst respectively.

With both sides languishing near the bottom of the table, though, it’s fair to say both men have work to do to stop the rot.


Walsall’s poor start

Walsall have accrued nine points from their first nine League Two games.

The Saddlers have failed to score in five of their nine league encounters – although they did win 1-0 at Morecambe on Tuesday in what Clarke described as a “battling” performance.

The manager is currently placing a lot of emphasis on the importance of getting his team to battle.

It is understandable, because there has not been a strong mentality at the club for a long time and fans need to identify with the players.

Clarke won a lot of goodwill in pre-season by speaking so candidly and passionately at a Fans’ Forum about the need to rectify the disconnect – on the sidelines, he tends to react to every small incident with almost the emotion he would react to a goal.

Equally, the club’s most successful manager this decade has been Dean Smith – he did not necessarily talk too much about fight and desire but was calmer and viewed situations with perhaps a longer-term perspective.

That is not to say that a manager with a different outlook might not do just as well and Clarke oversaw back-to-back promotions at Bristol Rovers – which was an excellent achievement.

Now though, he needs to establish a clearer playing identity and instil some confidence in his players – more than passion will be required.


Colclough back for Scunthorpe

Scunthorpe by contrast, have the advantage of Ryan Colclough’s return to fitness.

The Iron’s goalscoring record was drastically superior when Colclough was available last season, compared with when he was not – and the attacking midfielder made a huge difference from the bench in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw at home to Oldham.

Even when Scunny lost six of their first seven games, they were still managing shots from reasonable areas but looked short of a strong goalscoring presence – a problem recently eradicated by the switch to two up top – and perhaps their end product left something to be desired.

Colclough’s introduction, if Hurst can find a way of incorporating him into the starting XI without losing any tactical balance, is a potential game-changer.

In terms of natural ability, the 24-year-old is good enough to play in the Championship – it’s just various factors including injuries mean he is currently a League Two player and thus a massive asset at this level.

At the other end, the Iron look more secure defensively with a centre-back pairing of Harrison McGahey – aggressive and brave on the ball – alongside the more cautious and conservative Rory McArdle.


The Betting Angle

Given the above, Scunthorpe look a big price to win at 11/5.

The Expected Goals Ratio (xGR) has Scunny at 49.157f58c50f0e39ac2a} – they rank 13th in the Championship in terms of quality of shot data.

By contrast, Walsall rank 19th with an xGR of 43.377f58c50f0e39ac2a} so while they have four more points than their visitors, their general performances have arguably been worse.

For that reason, we should consider ourselves lucky to be offered quotes that imply a probability of just 31.37f58c50f0e39ac2a} on a Scunthorpe win.

Tip: Scunthorpe to win

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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