They explore Shaun Whalley’s continuing contribution to Shrewsbury Town and speculate just what Sam Ricketts and his squad might have been up to as they try to put their winless start to the season behind them.
It’s no surprise to see Shaun Whalley top of the creative charts for Shrewsbury so early into the new season.
The veteran winger, now 33, is showing no signs of slowing down and already has a goal and two assists to his name. He’s also created the most chances of any Town player.
Make no mistake, Whalley’s attacking contribution continues to be invaluable in a team that doesn’t tend to do much going forward.
That explains why he’s survived four managers during his six seasons at Town, which puts him among the EFL’s longest-serving players – 18th of those currently in League One.
Without him, Salop would surely have been relegated to League Two at some point since 2015.
Players of Whalley’s quality don’t come around too often and just last season Omar Beckles claimed he was ‘the best player outside of the Championship’.
He deserves credit for sticking around, too, given the likely interest in him over the years and the fact much of his time has been spent playing in a goal-shy team at the wrong end of the table.
Everyone of a Shrewsbury persuasion will be hoping the injury that forced him off against Gillingham isn’t too serious.
It’s been a quiet two weeks for Salop on the pitch providing Sam Ricketts the chance to give his players a bit of rest, but more importantly do some hard graft on the training ground.
This break has been a golden opportunity to bed in the new signings and really work on the tactical side of the game. There might not be such a chance again for a little while with the games coming thick and fast and often twice a week.
Ricketts would also have had the chance to look back at a strange start to the season and try to decipher quite why Shrewsbury, who look a good side at times, are neither creating enough chances, scoring enough goals or winning games.
The table doesn’t lie. Shrewsbury sit in 20th after four games, still waiting for a first victory. So what isn’t clicking?
Salop seem to start games well, but end up flagging quite quickly.
At the same time, they aren’t killing teams off – or at least giving themselves a cushion – while on top, leaving them vulnerable to an onslaught late on.
In fact, despite looking as bright in games the reality is they really aren’t creating very much with expected goals well below what you’d expect.
Is it fitness? Individual errors? Tactics? A mixture of all of the above?
There would have been some soul searching these last two weeks at Sundorne Castle, with lots of answers being sought, but one thing’s for sure Ricketts won’t have a lack of time on the training field as an excuse come Saturday.
I really don’t like the international breaks.
England securing an eye-catching, if unspectacular win over Belgium. Well okay, that’s great if you like that sort of thing – but give me a frustrating 1-1 draw with Gillingham instead any day of the week.
When it comes to the age old club versus country debate, club wins out for me every single time.
Even the biggest England games are usually defined in my head by what Shrewsbury were doing on the same day.
Take the 5-1 thrashing of Germany back in 2001 – a game that any proud Englishman remembers with fondness and pride.
Where did I watch that iconic clash? In a random pub in Stroud with a minibus full of Town fans on our way back from seeing a draw 0-0 at Bristol Rovers.
And as happy as I was with the England result, if you’d given me the chance that night to swap the two scorelines then I’d have taken the deal in a flash.
So I found myself at something of a loose end at 3pm on Saturday, with Salop not in action.
Of course, I was keeping an eye on scores elsewhere, but it’s just not the same when your own team are not involved.
Thank goodness normality returns this weekend.
Fingers crossed we can get back with a bang at Wimbledon and notch a much-needed victory.