It seems that one of the missing pieces from Colin Leeâ€™s time as Walsall Manager was former Wimbledon playmaker Andy Roberts.
Roberts was a midfielder who nearly helped Millwall and then Palace to promotion, and was possibly one of the last truly gifted Wimbledon players before the club deserted its fans for Milton Keynes, changing hands for over Â£4 million during his career.
He told the Croydon Advertiser in an interview, that it was during his second spell at Wimbledon that he fell out with the then new boss, Terry Burton, and was frozen out at the beginning of the 2003/4 season, having to train with the youth team. He wrote to every football league club, asking to be considered, before he finally received an answer from Colin Lee at Walsall.
Days before, however, Millwall had been beaten 6-0 by Rotherham at home on the opening day of the season. And the very day Roberts began packing for the trip north to Walsall, he was called by Lions chairman Theo Paphitis.”Joining Millwall was infinitely preferable to living in a hotel in Walsall,”said Roberts.”But when it came to the deal, Millwall drove a hard bargain.”
Whether that season would have turned out differently had the player come is pure speculation, of course, but fans will wonder what might have happened if weâ€™d had a midfielder of Robertsâ€™s class available when Merson vanished to Arizona and when Samways threw his dummy out of the pram and, of course, what light this sheds on the theory that Lee had completed his team building before Merson arrived, considering he made the offer to Roberts after the season started, and why he thought that a midfield of Merson, Samways and Osborn, with Corica and Oakes as back up, needed that much strengthening anyway.
Unfortunately, these are questions only Colin Lee can answer.