Saddlers visit Valley Parade this weekend...
Jon Whitney knows the Saddlers will face a real test against Bradford this weekend but has told his players to “enjoy” the occasion.
The Saddlers are in 13th place heading into Saturday’s League One match at Valley Parade, while Stuart McCall’s Bantams sit fifth and remain unbeaten at home.
Whitney’s men were beaten 4-0 in last season’s corresponding match – and the boss is eager to avoid a repeat this time around.
“We had a bad experience there last year – the 4-0 – and we don’t want another performance like that,” said the 46-year-old.
“We want to go there, give it a go and enjoy the experience of playing in front of 16-17,000.
“We’ve looked at them and what their strengths are and they are a strong team. They brought Alex Jones in - he scored a lot at Port Vale and scored a good goal on Sunday.
“Jordy [Hiwula] came off the bench. They brought in [Charlie] Wyke from Carlisle and you can see how their form has dropped off since he left.
“Kevin Toner played Sunday too and they’re a good, strong team. They make you defend and overload in the final third. We’ve got to cope with it and then play our football.”
Over recent months, Whitney has divided the fixture list up into blocks of five to give his team a points target to work towards.
And having recorded just one point from the last nine available, the boss has challenged his side to finish this five-game block with back-to-back wins over Bradford and Oxford.
“We try to block it into five’s,” Whitney added. “Before the Sheffield United game, apart from a block in October when we did really well and picked up 11 points, we were averaging five points every five games.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that isn’t good enough. Over a season, that’s relegation. So I asked the players what they thought were realistic targets.
“We can either keep fighting relegation or you can average seven points per five games which means you’re pushing towards mid-table. Or you can average ten points every five games and you’ll have a chance of the play-offs.
“From Sheffield onwards, we’ve started to increase our averages. It’s nice for us to have some kind of target because we need to know at the end of each block of five why we didn’t obtain our points.
“Was it simply performances were good but we didn’t get our rewards? We need some kind of objective to look at and we’ve got two games now where we can still return seven points from the last five. We’ll have five games left then to get as many as we can.”