Archive for July, 2005

Manchester United – Team News

neilr @ 8:57 am Saturday 30 July 2005

Walsall take on a Manchester United XI this afternoon, with some decisions still to be made on who is likely to start the first game of the season.

Paul Merson is likely to leave out new signing Chris Westwood from the starting line up, as he will be without his new captain for the Rotherham game and needs to look at alternatives.

In midfield, Osborn is likely to be rested, having been the first choice so far, in order to have a look at the form of the other player coach, Mark Kinsella, according to the Express and Star.

Up front, options are limited, with Matt Fryatt having played last night in England Under 19s defeat in the European final.

For Manchester United, Roy Keane, recovering from injury, will play, if he has had no reaction to his game at Rossendale the other night, and it is rumoured that Wes Brown, who also missed the Far East tour with injury, may also be given a run out. Walsall will be hoping that Gabriel Heinze may play too, having had an extended break after the Confederations Cup.

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Williams Released

neilr @ 5:17 pm Friday 29 July 2005

Teenage striker Leroy Williams has had his contract terminated “by mutual consent”.

The player was given a professional contract last year as he burst (goal scoring) onto the scene at the start of last season. It became more and more obvious that he was losing his way, however, as his appearances in the first team squad grew fewer and fewer, as the rumours of his lack of match fitness and weight problems increased.

This news comes as little surprise, after he was left off the squad photo shoot this week.

Fryatt Bid and Staunton To Arrive?

neilr @ 1:13 pm Friday 29 July 2005

The “Eatsleep Sport” site is reporting that West ham are preparing a bid for Walsall striker Matt Fryatt.

It is believed Hammers boss Alan Pardew kept tabs on the striker last season and thinks Fryatt can play at a higher level.
The site is a new one to me and I don’t know how reliable a source it is, but it suggests the London outfit could be set to offer £1million up front for the Saddlers frontman, who is expected to open contract talks with Paul Merson next week, with further money aavailableif he breaks into the England first team.

Meanwhile, the Evening Mail is now saying that ex Villa, Liverpool and Coventry man Steve Staunton will be signing on a non contract basis from Monday.

Quite how this aquisition fits in with the team is difficult to see, given that Staunton himself has said that he cannot play left back any more and we already have four centre backs in the squad. Maybe another departure may be imminent?

Youngsters Out On Loan?

neilr @ 6:40 am Friday 29 July 2005

The big rumour circulating last night was that youngsters Sean Platt and Taiwo Atieno are to go out on loan.

Atieno, of course, has gone out on loan before, but the current rumour is that they are both bound for Kidderminster. This would make some kind of sense, in that it would be easy to keep track of their progress there, in the same way as it was with Kris Taylor’s loan at Burton Albion.

Stuart Watkiss is known to be concerned about his strike force and said a couple of days ago:

“We’re speaking to a couple of players over the course of the next few days and hopefully we’ll be in a position to do something soon.”

The only surprise for me, should this turn out to be the case is that Atieno’s loan may leave us a little short of cover up front, especially with so many rumours also circulating about Matt Fryatt’s future.

No Friendly at Romulus

neilr @ 1:59 pm Thursday 28 July 2005

If you were thinking of watching a Walsall XI take on the mysterious Romulus, don’t bother. It’s off.

After two days of torrential rain, the teams did think of organising a water polo match on the completely waterlogged pitch, but that’s out of the question. The game has just been called off as unplayable.

Colin Lee Back In Charge – At Millwall

neilr @ 10:42 am Wednesday 27 July 2005

Millwall FC have suddenly – and quite surprisingly – announced the sacking of recently appointed manager Steve Claridge. Ex Saddlers boss Colin Lee has been put in charge, after getting the number two job there only in the past week.

The statement from the club says:

“Millwall Football Club have taken the decision to part with Steve Claridge as team manager.
The Board of Directors believe that it is in the best interests of the club that this move is made now so that a new manager can be appointed quickly in advance of the start of the season.
Colin Lee will be taking over with immediate effect”.

There is, obviously, more to this than meets the eye.

Manchester United – Early News

neilr @ 10:16 am Wednesday 27 July 2005

Whatever the rest of the Manchester United XI looks like when they turn up for the pre-season friendly, we should all have heard of one of them!

Following his failure to go on the pre-season tour of the Far east, due to injury, it looks as if Roy Keane will be making an an appearnace at Bescot.

Academy coach Brian McClair said at last night’s Manchester United reserve’s friendly at Rossendale: “This 45-minute friendly work out was always part of his rehabilitation programme. All being well he will play again at Walsall on Saturday and may play even longer.”

Coventry – First Look At The New Boys

neilr @ 11:41 am Tuesday 26 July 2005

Tonight’s hastily arranged extra friendly against Coventry City looks like seeing the debuts of two players as “Saddlers”.

Argentinian striker Ruben Dario Larossa, scorer of two goals in three games whilst on trial, should be playing, following his international clearance coming through. The process was relatively speedy, presumably thanks to his have an Italian passport.

Meanwhile, new midfield signing Paul Smith may also be playing, according to the official site, despite the fact that his contract with the Saddlers does not officially start until the 1st August. It seems that the club have been seeking permission for him to play in the fixture, in order to give him as much time as possible to get to know his new team mates. However, just byway of a contrast, the Express and Dingle is saying completely the opposite this lunchtime!

Paul Merson himself, Taiwo Atieno and American trialist Alex Smith all played in the 1 – 1 draw at Tamworth last night, so are unlikely to feature. There is also no indication as to whether Ian Roper has yet recovered from his injury.

Is It All Change Again With Surman?

neilr @ 1:35 pm Monday 25 July 2005

There are reports today that the situation with regard to the possible season long loan of Andrew Surman may be changing again.

Paul Merson has said that he has been talking to Harry Redknapp and believes that there may be a chance of resurrecting his season long loan. Surman has played a role in Southampton’s pre season games and the assumption was that he would be staying on the Sooth Coast and be a part of Redknapp’s plans.

Redknapp has apparently told Merson, however, that he is still looking to bring more experience into the Saint’s engine room and, if he should be successful, then the possibility of a loan would be on again.

Gillingham Skipper Rumours True!

neilr @ 8:58 am Friday 22 July 2005

Walsall have announced that they have signed Gillingham club captain Paul Smith on a two year contract, as had been ruomured on the message board for some days.

The tough tackling defensive midfielder had been a reported target for Championship sides as well as Swindon Town, but has opted to move to the Saddlers.

Smith is 33 (34 in September) and has played almost 400 games for the Gills, who acquired him from Brentford, for whom he made the best part of 200 appearances.

Quite where this leaves the current midfield resources at the club is hard to say, as we now have, as central midfielders, Kinsella, Osborn, Smith, Wrack, Kris Taylor, Merson, Broad and Standing, as well as youngsters like Bradley. One thing seems certain is that Merson’s own playing career may be coming to an end.

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