Archive for May, 2008

Gerrard Attracts Transfer Interest

Neil @ 12:00 pm Friday 30 May 2008

The Excuse and Dingle is reporting this morning that Anthony Gerrard is attracting transfer interest from several clubs.

Walsall’s player of the season is, according to the paper, is being courted by Wolves, Sjoke City and, shock horror, Coventry City.

There are, in addition, rumours on the message boards that the player has also been watched for some time by two unnamed London clubs.

This may well turn out to be a test of Jeff Bonser’s mettle (or his true regards for the club), as any transfer involving the popular Scouse centre half would be seen as a betrayal by many fans, especially in the wake of the Scott Dann episode.

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Sansara Signs Contract

Neil @ 12:06 pm Wednesday 28 May 2008

Netan Sansara has become the latest youngster to sign a new contract with the Saddlers. The promising left back has signed for another twelve months.

This is, apparently, part of the club’s new master plan, to play a couple of grown ups and 10 foetuses in every game, in the hope that the opposition are so busy saying “aahhh”, they’ll forget to tackle them.

Seriously, though, it is another vindication of the club’s successful youth policy in recent years, after the player became only the second man of Asian origin to play for the England team when he got his call up to the under 18s. Let us hope that Netan continues to make the progress we would like and, hopefully, also get a first team chance at some point next season.

The Blender

Exile @ 1:38 am Wednesday 28 May 2008

An irregular roundup of football news, both Walsall and non-Walsall, to populate the front page while there’s not much going on

Manny signs on
19 year-old central defender Manny Smith has signed up for another 12 months. The fledgling first-teamer and reserve skipper reckons he can cope with the rough and tumble of life in the front line and hopes to start the season in the first eleven. With only 4 other defenders to choose from odds are that he’ll be there, barring any new signings.

Club charm offensive
Our mates over at NMFE are reporting that the club’s officials will be available to answer questions submitted by email, with answers being posted on the official site. First tried nearly a decade ago, this is a welcome return to a form of dialogue between supporters and officials of the club.

The first question is, obviously “when will you announce this on the official site?”, followed closely by “when’s it going to start?” Follow-up questions will no doubt present themselves as time goes by, as we’re sure nobody has anything to query at the moment.

Real problem for ManUre
Man United staffers are busy repelling Spanish boarders who are desperate to snatch Ronaldo from their decks. In a statement they said:
“The player is on a long-term contract and his registration is held by Manchester United. The player is not for sale. No-one should be in any doubt that Manchester United will do everything in its power to keep its best players.”

It’s a shame that smaller clubs can’t take a leaf out of their book when presented with similar issues.

Premiership clubs not English any more
New statistics show that the amount of players eligible to play for England has fallen to an all-time low, with only 170 of the 498 registered players being English. During the last season only an average of four players in each team were English, and only one team (West Ham) managed to play a team where the average was over 50% for the season.

The worst offenders were, naturally, Arsenal, averaging 0.34 English players per game last year. It’s impressive that this league, which was ostensibly set up to develop English talent and help the national game along has managed to contribute so little yet take so much from football.

Stockpot join the division
Walsall’s Manchester area equivalent, little Stockport, managed promotion to League One to round out the 24 clubs for next season. While they’ll no doubt be delighted they’ll have a struggle to hang on to the youthful squad that brought them here under the guidance of youthful manager (and ex-player) Jim Gannon. Don’t call WFC for tips, Jim.

The Season Starts Here pt I

Exile @ 8:42 pm Monday 26 May 2008

First in a series of front page pieces to fill in time between now and the start of the season, when there’s no real news of course…

With the most important piece of the jigsaw now in place, in the shape of Jimmy Mullen, it’s time for Walsall to be putting together the rest of the puzzle.

While there’s no shortage of off-field staff, with perhaps the exception of an assistant to Jimmy, or a first team coach (either/or would be nice), on field the Saddlers would appear to be in a state of disarray, with a whole host of positions clamouring to be filled by half-decent, keen players looking to carve a niche out for themselves at the Banks’s Stadium.

Mullen’s first task is to instil some sort of confidence in the playing squad he has left – and one free tip we can offer him is that talk of ‘punching above your weight’ and ‘miracles’ will land him in a whole heap of trouble with the fans. Once he’s persuaded them to hang around for another season or more, he’ll have to find some new team-mates for them to play with, unless we downsize to the local indoor 5-a-side competition, which the squad ought to walk through without breaking a sweat.

A supposed advantage of Mullen’s lack of recent league experience will be that he has Paul Taylor at his beck and call, and the tanned one will no doubt have been busy running his expert eye over no shortage of talent, both domestic and foreign. We look forward to the preseason friendlies, where we can play ‘spot the triallist’ with anyone wearing Saddlers’ shirts 5-11 on the pitch.

One thing’s for certain – expectations are certainly at least as low as they were this time last year, although, perhaps bizarrely, our odds of survival at the bookies have improved. It’s up to Mullen to raise the bar if Jeff Bonser’s Championship dream is to be realised.

Mullen Is A Saddler

Exile @ 5:23 am Friday 23 May 2008

The club has just announced that Jimmy Mullen is to become the new first team manager after his short caretaker stint towards the end of our remarkably succesful last season, where the club finished in 12th position, well above anyone’s expectations only 10 months earlier, and despite losing the last manager late on in the piece.

Owner Jeff Bonser showed his amazing clarity of vision and foreseight by appointing Mullen as Richard Money’s No. 2 last September, and he immediately had a stablising influence on what would otherwise have been a very mediocre season indeed. Despite some serious interest from other bigger, more successful clubs, only two players were sold in January, and the majority of the squad remained intact, drawing closer through the experience, although inevitably some had to go at the end of the season.

Our new manager’s league background is impressive, his two promotions with Burnley far outweighing his vain attempts to save otherwise doomed clubs, Newport and Blackpool, from the drop. Jimmy has shown his versatility and humility throughout his career, as well as demonstrating his essential green credentials by spending some time recycling vehicles.

Overall, the fans can be understandably pleased with yet another astute, forward-thinking management appointment from our illustrious chairman and owner, which frees up yet more funds for our player budget, no doubt to be expertly taken care of by our own full-time scout, Paul ‘Tan The Man’ Taylor. Mullen can get on with doing what he does best, and the efficient, well-oiled machine that is Walsall Football Club Limited will no doubt go from strength to strength as more pitches are sold for the Sunday market, and ticket prices at the Bonser Suite comedy nights are steadily increased to cover pitchside activities.

All the best, Jimmy – we really want you to succeed.

Boertien Signs Up

Neil @ 12:31 pm Wednesday 21 May 2008

The evidence yet again seems to suggest that the Manager at Walsall Football Club has very little to do with signings. Despite the fact that we have no one in charge, Paul Boertien has been offered another contract.

The excuse with the retained list was that Richard Money had made the decisions before he left, but Boertien’s signing would seem to have to be on the say so of Paul Taylor.

Not that I, for one, will be objecting to this signing. Boertien is a class act, as he has proved on occasion for both us and Derby County. His problem is always his injury record, which gives the impression that he is a very unlucky footballer, as his absences have been for different reasons.

A back four of Weston, Gerrard, Boertien and A N Other (possibly Manny Smith), is looking a strong one, capable of maintaining the good defensive record we have had over the last couple of seasons.

Newsround 15/5/08

Exile @ 2:11 am Friday 16 May 2008

Haven’t had much on the front page as our regular editor is slumming it in a caravan in Wales, so here’s a round-up.

Craddock signs up
Josh Craddock, youth sensation, has signed his first professional contract with the club. We look forward to reporting on his continuing development. Separately, the club announced the release of forgotten man, Paul Hall, who spent the last half of the season stuck in Wrexham.

Friendlies for pre-season announced
In a departure from the norm, Walsall face some different opponents this Summer. So far we have:
11 July vs Bloxwich Utd AFC (Away), 7.45pm
29 July vs Dingles (Home), 7.45pm
2 August vs Port Fail (Away), 3.00pm
5 August vs Baggies (Home), 7.45pm

Other matches promised, at dates to be announced, are against Burton Albion (the closest Clough will get to the Walsall manager’s seat!), Hednesford Town, Kiddy and Worcester.

Bradley Benched
Mark Bradley had to settle for a few splinters as he watched Wales U-21 fall 2-0 to England’s team tonight. Former Saddler Scott Dann played the second half for England, although Fox was ruled out due to injury.

Football Crowds Doubled
The league announced that fans watching league footie topped the 16 million mark again this season, with their press release also commenting that league 1 crowds were up more than 6% this season, and average attendance had almost doubled since the mid-eighties. Obviously other clubs are making up the numbers for us.

New Managerial Candidate?

Neil @ 9:00 am Thursday 08 May 2008

The Daily Star, although noted for it’s ability to make something out of nothing, has come up with one name today which may fit Bonser’s desired profile – former Arsenal defender Steve Morrow.

Morrow is currently the head coach of FC Dallas in the United States’ Major League Soccer.

As a player, he was a versatile utility man, who could play at full back, centre back or midfield and he went on to win 39 caps for his country, Northern Ireland.
He is famous for having been injured during the celebrations on winning the 1993 League Cup Final, when Tony Adams dropped him.

He managed a total of 85 games for the Gunners, including that Cup Final and the 1994 Cup Winners Cup win against Parma and the defeat in the Final of the same competition by Real Zaragoza.

He later moved to QPR, before going to the States to play for Dallas Burn. He spent two seasons at Dallas (who renamed themselves FC Dallas in 2004), before retiring because of a persistent neck injury.

On February 3, 2004 he was named as an assistant coach to FC Dallas, but was forced to resign in late May due to personal reasons. However, he returned to the club on January 27, 2005 under coach Colin Clarke. When Clarke was fired on November 7, 2006, Morrow was named interim head coach. On December 11, 2006, FC Dallas General Manager Michael Hitchcock removed the ‘interim’ from his title.

Under his management, the team has reached the play off quarter finals twice.

Bonser On The Offensive

Neil @ 1:52 pm Wednesday 07 May 2008

The mountains of criticism aimed at owner and Chairman Jeff Bonser following the Saddler’s disastrous end to the season seems to be hitting home, a she has gone on a PR offensive.

Bonser has outlined to the Evening Mail his ambition to make Walsall a club who can “compete effectively” at Championship level.

He claims his ambition for the club is as high as that of the fans in an interview with the paper.

“My ambition, which is shared by each of my board colleagues, is for Walsall Football Club to return to the Championship. We are building a club that will not only be able to do this, but compete effectively at the higher level, rather than just survive.”

The appointment of the new manager will, therefore, be of paramount importance. The new man will, after the retained list was announced, have only a handful of experienced players on contract – and none at all with any experience in midfield or attack.

Richard Money was a surprise appointment – and one of a coach of rock-solid credentials rather than flamboyant reputation and the chairman has hinted he is looking for something similar this time round.

“Football is littered with clubs who choose managers on the basis of their playing record or being a ‘big name’ rather than their ability to do the job,” he said.

“I can promise that the next appointment will be the candidate we consider able to take the club to the Championship.”

How far the fans will be prepared to take this at face value remains to be seen, with the accusations of lack of ambition still ringing around the ground. Is this a statement with some substance, or just a PR exercise to see the club over the current unrest? Only time, the appointment of a new man and the quality of the players bought in will tell.

Walsall 2 Hartlepool 2

roger6 @ 5:31 pm Sunday 04 May 2008

The curtain came down on an eventful season with a 2-2 home draw with Hartlepool, meaning the Saddlers finished 2007-8 in 12th place.

Give your views on where the club goes from here on the message board. Lots of questions – who should be manager, which players should come in – and a lot of players who will be heading through the Bescot exit doors.

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