Archive for April, 2008

Huddersfield Town vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 11:49 am Friday 25 April 2008

It’s back to the football tomorrow, after all of the ructions and dramas of the week that’s just gone, and we can forget about the Chairman and the new Manager for a while with a trip to the impossibly (and somewhat ridiculously) named Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield.

It seems that we are on a two yearly cycle at the moment. 24 months ago, we were going into the end of the season with a caretaker manager in charge, in the shape of Mark Kinsella. Two years before that, it was the temporary arrangement of Paul Merson (spit, spit) and Simon Osborn. Tomorrow, it will be Jimmy Mullen’s first game in charge. Whoever does get the job permanently will be a little wary of what’s likely to happen in March 2010!

On top of Mullen’s first game, it will also, of course, be the first game in charge for the opposition manager, as Stan Ternent was appointed as their manager this week, with Ronnie Jepson as his assistant. Two former Burnley managers who took that team to promotion up against each other! Adds a little spice to the occasion.

Quite what team Mullen will put out is anybody’s guess. In fact, it’s difficult to say what team he should put out.

With Roper and Boertien still missing, Ince should be in goal, with Weston, Gerrard, Smith or Brown and Taundry or Sansara as the defence. After that, it gets more problematical. Of the midfielders, only Bradley and Demontagnac are contracted for next season, so should he start them ahead of any of the others? On the other hand, of course, N’Dour and Holmes have both said that they might be willing to stay, so should they be given a chance? Dobson and Wrack (now fit again after his injury) are both out of contract, so should they be left out? Will Mullen have any say in the new contracts anyway?

The same applies up front, where Betsy and Mooney won’t be staying (unless we come to a deal with Betsy). This all goes to show why the job of caretaker manager is a thankless one at this stage of the season.

On top of all of that, Lee Holmes (calf), Tommy Mooney (groin) and Ishmel Demontagnac (knee) are all facing fitness tests in any case.

Over at Huddersfield, Stan Ternent also has some problems – this time through injury.
Former Everton and Bradford striker Danny Cadamarteri (knee) and the highly experienced (the normal euphemism for very old) Frank Sinclair will be missing as will the dangerous Phil Jevons. (That will only leave them with strikers Luke Beckett and Andy Booth. What a terrible lack of resources. Jeff Bonser, please note).

Midfielder Chris Brandon also missed the last game through injury, so may be an absentee.

Predictions?

Huddersfield go into this game just three points behind us. With all of the disruptions, distractions and just plain disappointments of this week, I’ll be astonished if they aren’t level with us by five o’clock.

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Bonser Claims Reinvestment!

Neil @ 12:15 pm Thursday 24 April 2008

Chairman and owner Jeff Bonser has decided to go on the offensive, following accusations that the money received for Scott Dann and Danny Fox was not re-invested in the playing side of the club.

He told the Evening Mail:

“Every penny from the transfers of Dann and Fox will go back into the football side of this club. That is not to say we will be signing players left, right centre, although of course some of it will go to the new manager for players. But it will all go to the football side, whether it is the manager or into the youth set-up or the new training ground.

The next manager will have a bigger budget next season than Richard did this. It has been suggested that Richard left because of the budget for next season. Firstly, it should be pointed out that Richard never said that. All along at this club he has conducted himself superbly and that carried on right to the end. But he could not have said that anyway because he did not know the budget for next season. It does not exist yet because we will sit down and discuss it next week.

The accusation that we have not re-invested the money from the two transfers is absurd. Scott Dann was sold at 10pm on dead-line day. We did re-invest in loan players, including Lee Holmes and Kevin Betsy, who came in from Championship clubs and they are not small earners.

How on earth are you supposed to re-invest and sign players in two hours? Scott’s move came right out of the blue. We did not have a bid from Coventry until the day before the deadline.

Some people have said selling those two shows this club has no ambition. That’s just nonsense. We desperately want to get back in the Championship. If we did not want to keep Fox why had we been talking to him for three months and offered him a very much improved contract? The fact is he came to us and said he didn’t want to play for the club any more. So do we keep a player who has made it abundantly clear he wants to leave and then lose him for nothing at the end of the season?

Then we heard more and more rumblings that Scott wanted to go too and, in the end, he came to us and told us that. Again, do you keep an unhappy player? As there were two and a half years left on his contract we could negotiate a good price for Scott.
I don’t think anybody who knows anything about football or business would argue that it was not the right thing to do.”

The only unfortunate thing for Jeff is the fact that he doesn’t seem to appreciate that fans have heard all of this before – too many times. The proof of all of this will come when the club accounts are next published. Will the debts owed to the Directors suddenly have disappeared, or will the quality of the players signed by the new manager during the summer suddenly increase? I’m afraid that he has, yet again, showed that the club has no real conception of good public relations and how to make the average fan believe in the future and the ambitions of the club.

Walsall And Their Money Are Parted

Neil @ 4:18 pm Tuesday 22 April 2008

Whether the news was totally unexpected or not is a moot point, but Walsall have parted company with Richard Money.

Give your views on Money’s departure on the message board

It will take some time for the truth to come out of the circumstances behind this, but one has to jump to some obvious conclusions. Dicky Dosh had said that he wanted to have talks with the club about whether their ambitions met his and it appears that they don’t.

We all know that Jeff Bonser will always take the prudent approach with the finances of the club and I, for one, can see the logic of that. However, to not spend some of the £1.25 million received for Fox and Dann in January in strengthening for a play off push is little short of criminal.

At the last Fans Focus Meeting, Roy Whalley said that the ambition of this club was to be in the Championship by the season after next, when the new TV deal kicks in. Today’s news puts that statement in question, as it appears that the club has very little ambition at all.

The situation will be discussed on WM tonight, on the Daz Hale show, when the site editor will be giving his point of view, along with several others, including Darren Wrack.

Walsall ‘Til I Die

Neil @ 7:14 am Tuesday 22 April 2008

I’m Walsall ‘Til I Die, I Know I Am, I’m Sure I Am, I’m Walsall ‘Til I Die.

Your chance to feature in an exciting new book about your experiences of supporting Walsall Football Club.

Way of life

Following The Saddlers becomes a way of life for many of us. Whether at home or travelling away we experience moments of elation and exhilaration which become landmarks in our lives. But as we know all too well, there are also the low points of despair and disappointment when we feel that all our hopes have been dashed.

Memories of supporters

The Walsall Supporters’ Trust is publishing a new book which will be on sale at the start of next season. Walsall ‘Til I Die will reflect the memories and experiences of supporters both young and old. Players and managers may come and go but it is the fans who give the permanent character to a club like Walsall. And so as a celebration of the fans, this book will reveal the fun, the absurd, the emotional, the peculiar or unbelievable that is part and parcel of following The Saddlers.

Your stories

We want to meet our longest standing fan! Who travels the farthest to get to home matches? Who has seen more matches than anyone else? Who has the funniest Walsall tale? Who are our record breakers? Get in touch so these and many other stories get in to the new book. ‘Walsall ‘Til I Die’, real football stories from real football fans… Make sure your memories are in the new book! Story telling sessions will also be held in and around the town as part of the memory-gathering process if fans would like to attend – keep an eye on Walsall websites and the official programme for further details.

Please get in touch

If you have a story or set of experiences about either yourself, a family member, a neighbour or friend which you feel deserves to go into the book please get in touch — either e-mail your 200-300 word stories to david@legendspublishing.net, post them to 18 Darby Crescent, Sunbury-on-Thames, TW16 5LA or telephone Steve on 0790 6802432 to talk about your story.
The deadline for contributions is June 30th 2008.

Walsall 1 Bournemouth 3

roger6 @ 7:50 pm Monday 21 April 2008

The play-off dream finally was extinguished at Bescot on Saturday as a 3-1 defeat to Bournemouth continued our poor form in 2008, particularly since the sale of Fox and Dann in January.

Comments and reflections on the season have been pouring in on the message board – this is PhiltheSaddler’s assessment:

Where to start? Maybe with the starting line up. Betsy out wide, yet Deeney up front? Oh come on. Our only tactic is to boot the ball up in the hope Mooney gets a flick on, so why have we got our fastest and therefore most likely player to get on the end of a flick-on, out wide? The same player who’s started to look dangerous the last 3 games – out wide? Yet playing the player who looked really quite good on the right wing earlier in the season yet couldn’t hit a cows backside with a banjo – upfront? Why?

Finally DD sees this and moves Deeney out right, and Betsy upfront. Deeney gets a knock and comes off, and despite having a ready-made right winger on the bench in the form of Nicholls, we decide to bring a central midfielder on [who incidently should have started in place of the atrocious Dobson who i'll come to later] for a right winger, giving us a midfield of 1 left winger, and 3 central midfielders. It was no surprise therefor that we suddenly became dreadfully lopsided. Money told Weston to get forward, but as anyone who knows anything about football could have told you, he was immediately out of position because he was so far forward, with no cover. Despite this strange 3-1-4-2 formation, we still couldn’t keep the ball to save our lives. Anyone who watched MOTD2′s analysis of Newcasltes different tactics this season under Allardyce and Keegan will have seen our tactics almost exactly, Allardyces plan was to boot the ball up, they couldn’t keep the ball – and look what happened to him! Now look at them, they keep the ball, they pass and move, pass and move, open up spaces and get the ball in to the box and shock horror they actually shoot.

Our attacking was simply dreadful, we’re so slow and ponderous going forward its untrue. Our crossing was abysmal – and thats being kind. How many corners didn’t even beat the first man? Thats simple stuff. Really simple stuff.

And Dobson … Oh Dear Oh Dear Oh Dear. How on earth this chap ever made it as a football player is beyond me – I suppose it gives me hope though, ‘cos if he can make it, then so can I. He was worse than useless. By that, I mean we could have literally had no one instead of him, and we’d have been better off. He can’t run, his passes only just reach their target, he can’t tackle, he turns slower that the Titantic and his positional/footballing brain is non-existant – At one point, we were under pressure coming back towards our own goal, and instead of giving an option, he simply ran away from the ball, with his back to the play :shock:

We need to get back to basics, we can barely pass, we dont create chances, when we go forward, we simply dont have a clue – it actually looks like they literally dont know what to do. We all know DD is defensive, but I swear they dont even practice attacking in training, I mean the way we attack is nothing short of utter sh!te. Every time we get the oppurtunity to cross, we wait, and wait, and wait, and then finally get it in. Going through the middle, we are relying on a defender messing up somehow, and we betide any walsall player who wins a 50:50! Even when theres two Walsall players on one Bournemouth player, the Bournemouth player came out with the ball more often than not. Thats simply and utterly disgraceful. Any decent manager would be going absolutely mental at that. Yet DD just sits quietly. We all know DD is moody, I just wonder whether he’s just as pead off as the rest of us at the events of January, ‘cos he clearly doesn’t give a f*ck any more. Why should we?

Walsall vs AFC Bournemouth Preview

Neil @ 11:17 am Friday 18 April 2008

It’s drinking at the Last Chance Saloon time tomorrow. The home defeat to Bristol Rovers, at any other time of the season, could have been put down to “one of those things”. One of those results you get every now and again when your strikers aren’t functioning well and the ref is a total wazack (to say the least), but it was all too late for that. We were in a position where we couldn’t afford to have “one of those nights”. The decision of, presumably, the Chairman not to invest at least some of the cash from the sale of Danny Fox in a proven goal scorer (either in fees or wages) looks to have cost us dearly, along with Michael Ricketts’s agent not realising that four months (albeit low) wages from us is better than nothing from anyone. Still, we aren’t completely out of it yet and Leeds do look vulnerable, having themselves lost on Tuesday and struggled to get three points last Saturday against Carlisle.

Ian Roper has a broken foot, courtesy of that appalling “tackle” from Gillespie at Cheltenham and Boertien is still absent with his broken toe. Both are now going to be out for the rest of the season.

The injury news gets worse than that, however.

Darren Wrack and Stefan Moore are both out with the calf problems they have been suffering from, Mark Bradley had a virus on Tuesday and is unlikely to be fit, while Alassane N’Dour has knee and hip injuries picked up against Bristol Rovers and is doubtful.

Just like mid week, it looks as if we will be fielding whoever is still standing. Expect something like:

Ince, Weston, Smith, Gerrard, Taundry or Sansara, Nicholls or Sonko, Sonko or Taundry, Dobson, Holmes, Mooney, Betsy.

As for Bournemouth, Danny Hollands is back in midfield after a calf injury and long-serving defender Neil Young has overcome an ankle problem, while midfielder Marvin Bartley is likely to be out with a knee injury.

They do have plenty of firepower, with top scorer Jo Kuffour, promising youngster Sam Vokes and former Saddlers loanee Lee Bradbury still doing a job.

Predictions?

Bournemouth go into the game in 22nd position in the table, six points from safety. The main reason for that, however, was the ten point deduction they suffered as a result of going into administration. Even that doesn’t tell the whole story, though, as they have taken a massive 15 points out of the last 18 available, winning at Swansea and beating Bristol Rovers at home in the process.

What with our injury problems and the lack of form of the strikers, I have some real fears about this one. Heart says a win and keeping the impossible dream going a little longer, head says a draw.

Leeds, by the way, are at Millwall, who are in a decent run of form at the moment including wins at Hartlepool and Swansea.

Walsall ‘Til I Die

Neil @ 1:05 pm Thursday 17 April 2008

I’m Walsall ‘Til I Die, I Know I Am, I’m Sure I Am, I’m Walsall ‘Til I Die.

Your chance to feature in an exciting new book about your experiences of supporting Walsall Football Club.

Way of life

Following The Saddlers becomes a way of life for many of us. Whether at home or travelling away we experience moments of elation and exhilaration which become landmarks in our lives. But as we know all too well, there are also the low points of despair and disappointment when we feel that all our hopes have been dashed.

Memories of supporters

The Walsall Supporters’ Trust is publishing a new book which will be on sale at the start of next season. Walsall ‘Til I Die will reflect the memories and experiences of supporters both young and old. Players and managers may come and go but it is the fans who give the permanent character to a club like Walsall. And so as a celebration of the fans, this book will reveal the fun, the absurd, the emotional, the peculiar or unbelievable that is part and parcel of following The Saddlers.

Your stories

We want to meet our longest standing fan! Who travels the farthest to get to home matches? Who has seen more matches than anyone else? Who has the funniest Walsall tale? Who are our record breakers? Get in touch so these and many other stories get in to the new book. ‘Walsall ‘Til I Die’, real football stories from real football fans… Make sure your memories are in the new book! Story telling sessions will also be held in and around the town as part of the memory-gathering process if fans would like to attend – keep an eye on Walsall websites and the official programme for further details.

Please get in touch

If you have a story or set of experiences about either yourself, a family member, a neighbour or friend which you feel deserves to go into the book please get in touch — either e-mail your 200-300 word stories to david@legendspublishing.net, post them to 18 Darby Crescent, Sunbury-on-Thames, TW16 5LA or telephone Steve on 0790 6802432 to talk about your story.
The deadline for contributions is June 30th 2008.

Walsall vs Bristol Rovers Preview

Neil @ 12:46 pm Monday 14 April 2008

Walsall’s attempt to cling on to the hope of getting the last remaining play off slot (the top five are now surely safe, other than a spectacular blow up from Southend or Forest), comes back home tomorrow night, with the visit of ancient rivals Bristol Rovers.

Richard Money may well face some selection dilemmas for this game. Ian Roper was carried off on Saturday after a somewhat less than desirable challenge from Cheltenham’s Gillespie and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit. Michael Dobson went to centre back in the game, so, presumably, if Ropes doesn’t make it, either he will play there, or either Manny Smith or Aaron Brown will come in.

The choice may well be made more difficult, however, in that we also might have problems in midfield. Lee Holmes went off injured on Saturday as well, only to be followed later by the man who had replaced him, Ishmel Demontagnac. That means that Dobson’s presence may well be needed in the middle of the park, with the possibility of Nicholls or Deeney playing on the wing, or even the left footed N’Dour, who can play wide as well.

Dicky tends to be a man who does things his own way, but, for what it’s worth, if the three are missing, I’d go for:

Ince, Weston, Gerrard, Smith or Brown, Taundry, Sonko, Dobson, Bradley, N’Dour, Mooney, Betsy.

There’s no team news from Bristol Rovers yet, as seems to be normal for teams on a Monday before a Tuesday night game. Why that should be, I never could work out! However, they did line up at Bournemouth on Saturday:

Phillips, Jacobson, Elliott, Hinton, Lescott, Pipe, Lines, Campbell, Haldane, Disley, Lambert.

Subs: Carruthers, Anthony, Williams, Rigg, Klein-Davies.

That 4 5 1 formation didn’t work, as they lost the game 1 – 2 to one of the divisional strugglers.

Predictions?

Rovers go into this one in sixteenth place in the table, a mere 5 points above the relegation zone. What’s worse, since their Cup run ended at the hands of the Baggies, unlike the improving Barnsley in the Championship, they have gone downhill, having played nine and won precisely none, although they have got five draws, including credible ones at Forest and at home to Northampton.

The worry for the Saddlers, as it has been for some time now, is whether we can take the chances we create. Despite a lot of talk about the defence, in the end, it is our lack of a consistent goal threat that has been at the heart of the problems since January. Having said that, the team are quite aware that we are drinking in the last chance saloon and I think we should have enough to bag the three points tomorrow night.

Cheltenham Town vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 1:26 pm Friday 11 April 2008

Cheltenham? They don’t play football in Cheltenham, do they? Surely the town has more to do with elegant Georgian terraces, up market shops and wine bars and the Ladies’ College? Oh yes, and some four days of boredom every spring when there’s something called the Cheltenham Festival (not to be confused with the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which is marginally more interesting). But football? Really? Don’t the locals object to the oiks enjoying themselves in their town? Anyway, we’re apparently off tomorrow for our first ever League visit to somewhere called Whaddon Road.

Walsall Manager Richard Money will be missing a couple of players through injury. Left back Paul Boertien’s seemingly career long spell of back luck means he’s out with a broken toe. Richard Taundry is probably the favourite to take his place. It also seems the years are starting to catch up with long serving midfielder Darren Wrack, who will also be missing with a niggling calf injury.

Alassane N’Dour’s man of the match performance against Tranmere means that he’s likely to make his second start, so I’d expect a 4 5 1 of:

Ince, Weston, Gerrard, Roper, Taundry, Betsy, Sonko, Dobson, N’Dour, Holmes, Mooney.

Ishmel Demontagnac will probably be on the bench, after proving yet again last week that he can have an impact late on. Doubts still remain about him starting, however.

The opposition Manager, ex Dingle Keith Downing, has far more problems.

John Finnigan, Michael Townsend and former Saddlers’ youngster, Gavin Caines are all ruled out for the rest of the season through injury, as might Damian Spencer.
On top of that, they have injuries that will require fitness tests on Alex Russell (stomach), Alan Wright (achilles) and Craig Armstrong (ankle).

Predictions?

Cheltenham go into this game 4 points above the relegation places, in eighteenth place. That does not tell the whole story, though, as they have 9 wins at home and only 3 away. Indeed, they have lost just one of the last 10 at Whaddon Road

Walsall’s plight, however, is such that only a win will do, so here goes, three points to the Saddlers!

Don’t forget, by the way, that this game is all ticket for away fans.

Clifft-hanger for Essington residents

Exile @ 10:31 pm Tuesday 08 April 2008

Essington councillor David J. Clifft’s outrage on behalf of the people in his ward has put the mockers on a proposed new stadium for Walsall. South Show, major supporters of the plan, have now pulled out of the scheme, citing “difficulties with local relations”. It is thought that a traveller’s camp is now earmarked for the land.

The local council can now return to more important matters, like fixing the roads, ensuring the recycling is sorted properly and replacing all those street lamps that are out.

Disclaimer: the above story is a joke, just like the original stadium spoof story posted on April 1, commonly known as April Fool’s Day. Readers are reminded that they can discuss any story on the message boards, and if they have genuine concerns then a quick private message to any moderator listed in the forums will elicit a personal reply.

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