Archive for May, 2006

Mills To Bradford and Money\’s Priorities

neilr @ 8:54 am Tuesday 30 May 2006

Walsall Manager Richard Money has outlined what he sees as his major priorities in the transfer market.

Money says that the signings of striker Martin Butler and wide man Tony Bedeau are, hopefully, not the last.

His priorities are a goalkeeper, to replace the departing Andy Oakes, a midfielder to replace Simon Osborn and another striker.

We know he has already confirmed his interest in transfer-listed Coventry striker Andy Morrell, although admits he faces stiff competition from Championship new boys Southend.

Money hopes that geography may help out – Morrell’s wife has just given birth to their first child – but is more intent on selling Walsall’s promotion hopes to prospective new signings, a big factor in the signing of both Butler and Bedeau, according to the players themselves, coupled with Butler’s arrival being itself a statement of intent.

“As well as hopefully being exciting to the fans, signing someone like Martin should also send out a message to other players out there,” he told the Evening Mail.

“While it’s good to have got Tony and Martin in so quickly, we still need strengthening in one or two positions but I would like to think the signings we have already made will help us in that respect.

We’ve spoken to Andy Morrell, as have a lot of other clubs, but if he sees we are able to bring in someone like Martin Butler then maybe he will feel we are going places.”

Meanwhile, the usually dependable Bradford fans site, the Boyz from Brazil is reporting that they are interested in signing loanee from last season, Pablo Mills. Mills’ contract is up and the second division club are supposed to be interested in picking up the central defender.

It is unlikely that Money sees central defenders as much of a priority at the moment, with Roper, Gerrard and Westwood already here for next season and, should it turn out that Bradford are interested, it seems unlikely that Mills would consider coming to a second division team anyway.

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Martin Butler – The Answer?

neilr @ 9:39 am Sunday 28 May 2006

The return of Martin Butler to the Saddlers last Friday came as a major surprise, as, despite rumours for months, few really accepted we were in with a chance of getting a proven goalscorer of his class.

Butler’s start at the Saddlers was hardly one to set the world on fire. Despite having 49 full apearances and 38 as a sub, (I never thought he got that many games!), he was never given a fair crack of th whip by the fans, or, to be fair, the then Manager, Chris Nicholl, who persisted in playing him out of position on several occasions.

Since then, however, at Cambridge, Reading and Rotherham, he has gone on to score better than a goal every three games, a lot of which has been at a higher level, turning into a strong running, awkward forward, good in the air and able to hold the ball up.

A few Rotherham fans have said he isn’t the player he was since he had a long term injury, but that is uncharitable, in view of the amount of time he had out of the game (and even training) both last season and the season before.

He had been ruled out for several months after having a knee operation and then suffering hepatitis A, then, on his return last August, picked up glandular fever, which is, of course, very debilitating, with after effects which can last a long while.

Despite all of this, he still managed 8 goals last season and 6 the season before, in the middle of all his troubles.

Personally, chaps and chapesses, I think we may have been very fortunate to get him.

Ex Reading and Rotherham Man Returns

neilr @ 11:32 am Friday 26 May 2006

The Official web site has now confirmed the sources “up t’North” that Walsall’s new signing today is none other than ex Saddler Martin Butler.

The striker did, of course, start his career at Bescot, but was a target for some unthinking abuse during his time here, despite the fact that some of his lack of success was caused by being played out of position.

He then moved to Cambridge, where he really made a name for himself, scoring 41 goals in 104 League games, both as a sub and a starter. That got him a big money move to Reading.

He was there for three years, netting 32 goals in 85 league starts (including, of course, one against us at Cardiff), before moving to Rotherham, where he has carried on a scoring record of 1 in every three games. The latter part of his time there had been blighted by illness, however, which is now over.

Butler is 5’ 11”, but surprisingly good in the air, can hold the ball up well and, in my opinion, would be an excellent addition to the squad in this Division. Let’s hope that some of the more moronic element will give him a chance, as we now look like having a strike force capable of scoring plenty of goals at this level.

What A Difference Money Makes

neilr @ 8:55 am Friday 26 May 2006

Richard Money’s completely different approach to football management compared with what went before has been shown up again.

Money is to take the squad away for a “team bonding” session before the first pre-season games, but, in his case, it will be at Lilleshall and the concentration will be on footballing matters.

Money also says that part of the Lilleshall experience will be setting goals for the team for the season to come. Hopefully, this means that every member of the team will know what is expected of them and that the Manager will have a structure by which he can measure progress, both individually and as a team. His approach to the job seems to be a very scientific one, as witnessed by his already stated beliefs about how pre-season should work and his signing of the club up to the “Video Coach” system.

“We will start pre-season training by spending time at Lilleshall, where we will do some team bonding and set team goals for the year ahead,” said Money.
“I am hoping for us to be able to play a couple of practice games whilst we are there before taking the whole squad to Halesowen for our first public friendly fixture”.

Torquay Winger Signs

neilr @ 3:00 pm Wednesday 24 May 2006

Walsall have made their first signing of the Summer – Torquay’s pacy and skillful right winger Tony Bedeau, on a pre contract agreement.

Anthony Charles Osmond Bedeau (born March 24, 1979 in Hammersmith, London) is a full international for Grenada. He was Torquay’s longest serving player.

After being on Chelsea’s books as a schoolboy, he joined Torquay United as an apprentice in 1995, making his debut as a substitute, at the age of 16, on the 9th of September 1995 against Cardiff City at Ninian Park. Signing professional on the 28th of July 1997, he sooned established himself as a first-team regular with his pace and ability attracting attention from Premier League sides, which included him training with Sheffield Wednesday for a spell on the recommendation of Chris Waddle, followed by Torquay turning down a bid of £50,000 from Wednesday. 2000-01 was not Tony’s best season, he started it with an injury, only managing 5 goals in a disappointing season all round for the Gulls. Despite this he was still in demand from other clubs. In September 2000, Torquay turned down a £200,000 offer from a first division side, thought to be Oxford United, just after he had returned from a week on trial at Sunderland.

In May 2001 he agreed to an extending his Plainmoor contract until 2003. After a poor start to the following season he was transfer-listed by new manager Roy McFarland and in January 2002 he joined first division Barnsley on loan, playing 3 times as a substitute for the Oakwell side. He returned to Torquay, regaining his place in the first team and played a major role in Torquay securing automatic promotion in 2004, playing in a variety of positions.

He was awarded a testimonial by the club in the 2005-06 season.

Bedeau is quoted on the Official site as saying:

“I have been at Torquay a long time and felt that I needed a new challenge. There were a lot of clubs who expressed an interest in me, but Richard Money did a fantastic job in selling the club to me and one look around the stadium and facilities convinced me that this was the right move.

There is a superb set-up here and, with respect to Torquay, I see it as a step up. I have played a lot at this level over the years and also the level above and want to play my part in helping Walsall get back their League One status.

I just love playing football and will play wherever I am asked to. The start of the season cannot come soon enough for me now”.

The last comment is interesting, as he is versatile, having played as an emergency striker, right back and right wing back in his time.

Bedeau

Pre Season – The Red Devils to Rushden!

neilr @ 11:49 am Wednesday 24 May 2006

New Walsall manager Richard Money has been outlining what he expects to get out of the club’s pre-season programme, while the official web site has the current definitive list of fixtures.

“We will start pre-season training by spending time at Lilleshall where we will do some team bonding and set team goals for the year ahead,” Money told the site. “I am hoping for us to be able to play a couple of practise games whilst we are there before taking the whole squad to Halesowen for our first public friendly fixture.

After that we have three great home games to look forward to against West Bromwich Albion, Manchester United and Aston Villa which will be nice for the fans to see and for the players to be involved in.

We will then follow those matches up with a couple of games against Rushden & Diamonds and Stafford Rangers where we will field our potential starting line-up for the first League match on August 5th.

For me, the early pre-season friendlies will be about getting our philosophy across to the players before we start to concentrate on was is likely to be the team that starts the season in the later games.”

The fixtures are, (so far):

Wednesday, July 12th v Halesowen Town (away) (kick-off 7.30pm)

Saturday, July 15th v West Bromwich Albion (home – Ian Roper Testimonial) (kick-off 3.00pm),

Tuesday, July 18th v Manchester United XI (home) (kick-off 7.45pm),

Wednesday, July 19th v Hednesford Town (away) (kick-off 7.45pm),

Friday, July 21st v Aston Villa (home) (kick-off 7.45pm),

Saturday, July 22nd v Rushall Olympic (away) (kick-off 3.00pm),

Tuesday, July 25th v Rushden & Diamonds (away) (kick-off 7.45pm),

Saturday, July 29th v Stafford Rangers (away) (kick-off 3.00pm),

Monday, July 31st v Willenhall Town (away) (kick-off 7.30pm).

Money Means Business

neilr @ 12:17 pm Tuesday 23 May 2006

It came as a surprise to many Walsall fans when they were told that the players would be called back for pre-season training a month early, starting next week. New Manager Richard Money has now been explaining his thinking.

“Every manager will give their players a maintenance programme to follow during this time of the year,” said Money. “A break of seven or eight weeks between one season ending and the start of pre-season training is too long and you find that after a couple of weeks fitness levels will drop.

A lot of clubs ask their players to follow their particular maintenance programme on their own, but I have structured it more formally to give the players the opportunity to come in three mornings a week where, as a group, we will take advantage of the facilities on offer at David Lloyd Leisure.

There will be no football or running; we will concentrate purely on swimming, cycling, boxing and weights. It is vitally important that the players follow this programme and working together on it will certainly help. It also enables me to monitor at first-hand how intense pre-season training will need to be.

I want to do a lot of technique and tactical work during pre-season and don’t want to have to waste any time getting the players’ fitness levels up to the required standard. I believe that by doing things this way, it gives us every chance of being successful when the season finally gets underway.”

The new man at the helm seems to be meaning real business as he plans his assault on Division 2 next season. The past two years have seen an unfit, disorganised team fighting two disappointing battles, culminating in our eventual relegation. Kevan Broadhurst identified the problems, but was unable to do much about them, with his authority already undermined by the nature of his temporary appointment. Money now seems to have decided on his approach and it looks, hopefully, like one that should meet with greater success.

He has, for example, also signed the club up for “The Video Coach”, a coaching and analyst system that is used by a number of clubs up and down the country.

“I see The Video Coach as an essential part of the modern coaches armoury. Every game will be videoed and then we will be able to take out the bits that we need to give to the players both individually and as a team.

It will give us a clearer picture of what is required and I know that this system has been used to good effect at both Watford and Northampton Town this season, whilst this kind of thing is also very popular abroad”.

Supporters\’ Trust AGM and Public Meeting

neilr @ 4:41 pm Wednesday 17 May 2006

We have received the following press release from the Walsall Supporters’ Trust. As some have already said on the relevant threads, the letter from Nigel Bond and other events seem to suggest that the club is willing to start to build bridges with the fans. The Trust has been thinking in similar terms and this is the evidence of that.

The Walsall Supporters’ Trust has announced that their Annual General Meeting will be on the 24th May in the Saddlers Club.

There has been, in the last week or so, a most welcome initiative from Director Nigel Bond, who asked, in a letter to supporters who travelled to Gillingham, for bridges to be built between the club and the fans. The Trust wishes to reciprocate, by looking for ways to improve the relationship between the Supporter’s Trust and Walsall FC. Because of that, we will be holding a public meeting following the AGM, at 7.30, to ask (and, hopefully, find) the answers to some questions.

The Agenda?

We are here to move forward, not to dwell on what’s gone on in the past. The confrontational stance taken by some in the past has just been counter-productive, but now we should be moving forward. We should be looking at ways of working with the club, not organising demonstrations against the current regime.

To that end, the meeting will be based around finding answers to these questions:-

1. What should the Trust aim to achieve with the Club and for the fans? This needs to bear-in-mind that it is constituted to strengthen the bonds between Walsall Football Club and the local community in Walsall [the community which it serves] and to represent the interests of the community in the running of Walsall Football Club

2. How can the Trust’s relationship with the club, the Chief Executive and the owner be improved?

3. What are the ways that fans can be made aware of the Trust and become more involved?

4. Should there be separate fund raising efforts to get money for campaigns to raise awareness of issues, as well as working on getting representation on the Board? What forms of fundraising can we use?

5. Should we try to do more with the Trust website and are there enough people who would want to be involved in that?

There has been a lot of disruption and destruction during the pain of the last two seasons. Now is the time to get constructive. We are asking for as many people as possible to get to the meeting and do their bit for Walsall FC.

I can do no more than urge fans to attend.

Coventry and Colchester Men Chased

neilr @ 3:09 pm Tuesday 16 May 2006

Richard Money has shown that he means business already – both in terms of his coaching style and the ambition he has for players to be brought in.

The current squad have already been shocked by the news that they are to report back for pre-season training on, wait for it, the 29th May, a full four weeks before most others will have. During the extra four weeks, they will be doing three days a week fitness training, prior to starting the “proper” pre-season, five days a week sessions.

Meanwhile, he has dropped hints that, amongst the players he has been looking at to replace his badly misfiring strike force from last season are:-

Colchester’s Tony Thorpe, Alun Armstrong from Rushden and Andy Morrell, who has been released by Coventry City.

Andy Morell has never really hit it off at Coventry, but did score 40 goals in 76 League starts at Wrexham, where he made his name and the Saddlers were supposedly interested in him in our Championship days.

Tony Thorpe is 32 now, but has a career record of 137 goals in 288 starts (130 sub appearances) for his 8 clubs. 31 year old Armstrong’s career has drifted a little in the last couple of years, due to injury. He made his name at Stockport and Middlesbrough.

Money and the Foreign Connection

neilr @ 9:48 am Monday 15 May 2006

New Walsall manager Richard Money says that he has not ruled out using his contacts abroad in the search for the “six or so” players he thinks he needs for next season’s campaign, but sees experience as more important.

“First and foremost we need to get players who are proven at this level and have the experience that we need.

But in the future there is a real opportunity to bring people in from abroad and that’s something I will look into.

There are players out there who I believe could do a job at our level, and that’s something I might look into at some stage.”

Money insists that his contacts in England remain strong despite three years away and he will step up his efforts to build a promotion-challenging squad in the next couple of weeks after clearing the decks.

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