Archive for January, 2005

Murphy for Eire

4two @ 6:34 pm Monday 31 January 2005

Joe Murphy has been named in Irelands Squad to face Portugal on Feb 9th.

Murphy had become the forgotten man while rotting in the Albion Reserves. He is named along with fellow keepers Shay Given and Paddy Kenny.


Paston – Halsall – Robins

neilr @ 1:49 pm Monday 31 January 2005

As we predicted last week following the signing of Dean Coleman on a professional contract, the club have announced that Mark Paston’s contract has been paid up. The New Zealand International has been deemed surplus to requirements and is the “one out” in Merson’s “one in, one out” statement last week, with Surman coming in.

In another move, Paul Merson has said that he would like Mick Halsall to take over first team coaching duties.

Merson told the Evening Mail: “Mick made a massive difference. He was on the touchline constantly talking and shouting at the players and keeping them on their toes.
That’s what I need and hopefully he will agree to keep doing it for a while. I will be begging him to although I think I might know his answer – his first love has always been working with the youngsters.”

Meanwhile, former Saddler Mark Robins has become the new Assistant Manager at Rotherham, following the departure of Ronnie Moore today.

Walsall 4-3 Huddersfield

onenil @ 6:44 pm Saturday 29 January 2005

At eleven minutes past three today, Walsall couldn’t sink any lower. A season in which we were meant to win promotion was looking more like a relegation campaign, we had just been thrashed 5-0 by mighty Colchester and now we found ourselves 0-2 down at home to Huddersfield Town. Cue one of the best comebacks ever witnessed by the Walsall faithful – a stunner from under fire boss Paul Merson and a super Matty Fryatt hat trick helped the Saddlers to a thrilling 4-3 victory.

Julian Bennett’s poor clearance was hammered into the roof of the net by veteran Andy Booth (7) before Pawel Abbott’s shot deflected into the path of Luke Beckett, who notched his second of the afternoon (11).

Walsall replied with a screamer – in off the post – from Merson after 16 minutes but soon found themselves 1-3 down. A free kick was wrongly given against Bennett – whose confidence had fallen from low to non existent since his mistake – and when this was cleared, Efe Sodje’s shot was deflected behind for a corner which was headed in by Beckett, on loan from Sheffield United.

The Saddlers pulled a goal back on the stroke of half time, when Matty Fryatt superbly volleyed past Paul Rachubka from 25 yards. Fryatt then grabbed an equaliser from the penalty spot five minutes into the second half – Sodje’s handball allowed Fryatt to send Rachubka the wrong way from twelve yards.

The Saddlers, buoyed by one of the best Bescot atmospheres for a long time, pushed forward for a winner and it arrived in the shape of Matty Fryatt’s first Walsall hat trick. Darren Wrack broke down the left, fed Merson, who fed Fryatt and he finished first time, netting his twelfth goal of the season (74).

Man of the Match was given to Fryatt but skipper Mark Kinsella – who has at last found his feet in WS1 – and Kris Taylor – recalled to midfield from a highly successful loan spell at Burton Albion – were absolutely superb.

Coleman Signed

neilr @ 1:41 pm Friday 28 January 2005

Dean Coleman, Walsall’s young goalkeeper, has been given a professional contract until the end of next season.

This is another justification of the club’s youth policy and very welcome.

I would now expect the departure of one of the other keepers with this news.

Walsall vs Huddersfield – Preview

neilr @ 1:19 pm Friday 28 January 2005

Back at the beginning of October two goals by Pawel Abbott and a third by Junior Mendes were enough to see Huddersfield beat The Saddlers 3-1 at the Galpharm. Our goal was a brilliant headed own goal by Nathan Clarke. The Saddlers can’t afford any slip ups this weekend, however, following the abject performance on Tuesday at Colchester, the departure of coach Frank Barlow and the “will he won’t he” episode of Paul Merson’s resignation. Their record at Bescot Stadium isn’t the best, or the worst. In ten visits they have won once, with 5 draws and 4 defeats. This time they are on the back of a win over Bournemouth looking for two wins in a row (incredibly) for the first time this season.

For Walsall, Jorge Leitao is a doubt, having limped off on Tuesday night with a twisted ankle. Matt Fryatt may be available, as he trained on Thursday, but his hamstring problem could mean he isn’t risked. Standing has a similar problem, but not as serious, and may well figure, while Ian Roper is highly unlikely to be available, although he may well feature in the Wrexham game. Richard McKinney is, of course, still out.
Taiwo Atieno’s return from Rochdale means he may well be on the bench at least, given the shortages up front, and the recall of Kris Taylor from his loan suggests he may start – although who knows where! This week’s news on Toni Nhleko means we are unlikely to see him until the summer, if then.
New loan signing from Southampton Andrew Surman will, presumably, be bound to play some part in the proceedings and may well start. If so, it will be interesting to see if it is on the wing in a 4 4 2 formation, or whether it is as a striker in the usual 4 3 1 2.

For Huddersfield, midfielders Holdsworth and Carss are out for at least the next month, both with hernia problems. Defenders Mirfin and McCombe will both be available for Saturday, returning from injury, although Mirfin was ill this week and missed the reserve match he was scheduled to play in. Nathan Clarke (scorer of our goal at their place) is probably still out of the defence but his brother, Tom, retains his place. Midfielder Chris Brandon, who terrorised us in the away game, will be back from his suspension.

The danger men are, certainly, Pawel Abbott, their leading scorer on 19 goals this season, and Sheffield United’s on loan Luke Beckett, who has made an impressive start to his spell at Huddersfield, scoring twice against Bournemouth last week. On the bench should also be the always dangerous Junior Mendes.

Huddersfield go into the game in 13th place, as they attempt to consolidate their promotion via the play offs last season. Despite mid table respectability, the Manager has come under some pressure from the fans recently, though. That, presumably, is on the strength of their home record, as away from the newly renamed Galpharm Stadium they look slightly better than that, for a newly promoted team:

Played 14 Won 4 Drawn 4 Lost 6 For 22 Against 23 Points 16 – After all, if we had that record, we’d be up with Bradford and Bournemouth on the fringe of the play off race.

Prediction? I really haven’t got a clue. I originally went for a close home win, but the shambles of Tuesday night suggests that the team will either bounce back and win well, or capitulate again. As I can’t make my mind up, I’ll go with my original instinct when I did the Prediction League last weekend. 2 – 1 to the Saddlers. Fingers crossed. Or should I go 1 – 2 to Huddersfield? No, 2 –1 Saddlers – definitely – honest. Oh I don’t know . . . . Tell you what, if Surman is any good and we go 4 4 2 or 4 4 1 1, I’ll say home win . . no doubt . . . I think.

Southampton Youngster Arrives

neilr @ 12:20 pm Friday 28 January 2005

Southampton youngster Andrew Surman has arrived at Bescot on an initial one month loan.

The South African born 18 year old is a left sided winger or striker who has perfomed impressively for the reserves at the Friends Provident Stadium this season, although he has not, as yet, been given a squad number, so is not near the first team.

He will go straight into the squad for tomorrow’s game, which may, therefore, see a move to a 4 4 2 formation.

Kris Taylor Recalled – No Nhleko

neilr @ 2:22 pm Thursday 27 January 2005

Paul Merson has today recalled Kris Taylor from his loan spell at Burton Albion.

Merson has been quoted as saying that he wants to “shake the pack up” following the disastrous defeat at Colchester on Tuesday and has received good reports from Burton Manager Nigel Clough on Taylor’s progress.

He also says that he is talking to Harry Redknapp about a possible loan from Southampton. With Jorge Leitao having twisted an ankle on Tuesday night and Matt Fryatt still not fit, a striker is a possibility, but the club is also short of defenders.

The situation up front has also not been helped by Toni Nhelko’s problems. The South African striker has now sorted out his work permit, but still won’t be coming, at least not yet. His mother has suffered a stroke and he needs to stay home with her. The club have no idea when he might be available now.

And Now Barlow Goes

neilr @ 5:41 pm Wednesday 26 January 2005

Frank Barlow has left the club in order to become Gary Megson’s Assistant at Nottingham Forest, following Frank Burrows’ decision not to follow Megson because of “family problems”.

The departure of the club’s second coach this season, following Iffy Onoura, plus the “will he won’t he” saga of Merson’s threatened resignation just leaves the club’s coaching arrangements in complete disarray.

Merson Stays

neilr @ 3:29 pm Wednesday 26 January 2005

BBC West Midlands is reporting that Paul Merson has decided not to resign and to remain in his post as manager of Walsall.

He made the decision after a meeting with Jeff Bonser this morning.

This is despite last night’s thrashing at Colchester and a record as Manager of Played 38, Won 11, Lost 18, Drawn 9, the equivalent of an average of a mere 1.1 points per game.

This compares poorly with, say, Jan Sorensen’s Played 62, Won 26, Lost 23, Drawn 13, or 1.46 points per game, or even Colin Lee’s Played 116, Won 38, Lost 48, Drawn 30, or 1.24 points per game.

Not The Players Fault – Merson

neilr @ 2:42 pm Wednesday 26 January 2005

Paul Merson has told the Evening Mail that he does not consider the club’s current plight to be the fault of the players. While telling them last night that he was considering his position as Manager, he also said:-

“Whatever happens I’m not blaming the players. They’ve been as good as gold for me this season but I don’t know what the way forward is now. It can’t go any further back, can it?”

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