As I’ve mentioned in other threads on this forum, there is a startling lack of an identity or a long term plan at Walsall at the moment. It’s almost 3 years since the 15/16 season finished and the entire Smith project disintegrated into dust in that summer, seemingly consigned to the history books. Since then, there hasn’t been even the semblance of a plan to develop the club in any way, shape or form. We’ve merely existed with a string of loanees, journeymen, former players and Scottish lower division full backs.

A key element of that Smith project was the youth system at the club. What is happening with this system? Why are there no players of any quality breaking into the first team anymore?

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Fair to say the ‘footballing identity’ was instigated and implemented by Smith and has perished in the years following his departure. The withering developmental arc of Mitch Candlin seems indicative of the club’s willingness to restrict opportunities for young players in favour of loanees or to flog them at the soonest opportunity.

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My guess, it is in the same place, when Dean Smith blueprint is. So nowhere. It was sent to bin next day after Smith gone to Brentford. But I feel safe, team will compete for place in the Championship. How? I have no idea, but I believe what was said and why shouldn’t I. This link should prove it click.



“I think being successful in this league is about organisation and having faith in your team and manager. If you have that I think you can achieve great things.”

As the man says …and that’s exactly why we are where we are

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Yeah agreed organisation, effort , discipline,a good defensive system and a manager you respect and want to play for will have you at least in the top half of the table in league 1



Take the positives. With no youth we won’t be selliing any hot prospects at bargain prices…

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This year the youth team have hardly won a game. There may however be one or two good players there but the supply seems to have dried up for the time being. I commented elsewhere that the whole of the football side of the club needs reviewing. That is why I hope we go for an experienced Manager who can bring in new thinking. It seems that since Smith left we have lost our way.The decision not to field a reserve team seemed odd to me. The result is that the youngsters not on loan hardly get a game.Mind you a lot of those out on loan don’t get on the pitch either…it seems we have wasted lots of money on keeping players who simply aren’t good enough. I think I read somewhere that 17 players are out of contract this Summer. Most of those have been nowhere near the first team!!!



Youth set up doesn’t seem to have been the same since Mick Halsall left.



Not only the youngsters, most of the subs bench and fringe players don’t get a game either - Oteh, Laird, Johnson, Fitzwater and Dunn have barely kicked a ball in anger since January.



Can someone explain to me what John Ward does?

Get rid too.

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Can anybody explain what ANY of Keates’s backroom staff actually do?

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How dare you say that !!!they assist the plumbers in the toilets , the painting of the stadium, get the lawn mowers out and cut the pitch its endless.



From time to time I look at this lot and wonder.

O’Connor and Tom Bradley not included here





The mind boggles



MGM appear to have lost interest in their new film: Ocean’s nine - descent into the abyss.



Youth has been an issue for me over the last couple of years.

  1. In terms of not getting any younger having turned 30 in the last year
  2. The fact that I feel our youth team are being miss managed at the moment

When I look back at the 2 more successful managers of recent times Smith and Money. What they did best was integrate the youth team fringe players into the squad. This in turn meant we afforded a better caliber of experience in the squad to go along side the youth.

If you take Smith for example. Preston was 3rd choice CB. Benning and then Rico second choice LB, Kinsella second choice RB. Flannagan was our extra midfield option and Morris rotates as a wide option.

This was not unfamiliar with Smith having played Grigg up front with Macken which no doubt bought him on to the player he is today. He also integrated Paterson into the team.

Whitney did try to do this but in doing so went too much the other way. Although I commend him for Korey & Liam Roberts as well as Baka who has proven to be a good player in this league. The reason for our struggles later in his tenure was the weak bench we were presented with. This I believe more of a side effect of spending the extra wages gained by adding youth on players who weren’t experienced in this league.

Where Keates lost it was that he didn’t trust youth at all. As a result he spread his thin budget over 22 players commanding a higher wage on average. Leaving us with undoubtably a squad high in number but low in quality. With one argument being that, if he had Cook and Gordon. Did he need Ferrier or could that have been Candlin or Parker etc.

The fact is that the youth team has produced. If you take out Paterson, Grigg and Rico who have gone on to better themselves. We have produced Preston, Benning, Bakayoko, Kinsella, Morris, K Roberts and L Roberts who have proven to be good enough for this league. That could now be 7 of 11 first team players with the hope that Cokerill-Mollett, Sangha, Candlin and Parker are good enough to add to that.

We will never get experience out of these players unless we are willing to give them 10 mins here or a cup game there. Playing them in a midfield with 2 other experienced players for example.

Take Kinsella for example, 90% on here would have got rid of him last season. Non League at best I think he was called more than one occasion. Look at the difference game time makes. Now, I don’t think I’m out of place to suggest that he could play higher than our level.

You will never know how good these guys are until they have 40-50 games under their belt. Even in 10 min spells. Even then they will still need 100 games to be consistent league one players. That fact remains, we have proven to be successful with the managers above when we have utilised them, not for what they bring but what using them allows us to bring in. Beyond that, should they be successful, the money the sell on for is keeping the production line alive.



Keates said after preseason that Sangha has been outstanding in the games, but he never really got near the match day squad.
Blackburn must have seen something in Candlin initially and others have been talked up previously. Why are they never on the bench. If they don’t get the ocadsionsl game time minutes we never really know how good or even poor they really are.
I have always believed we should prioritise our own whenever possible. Surely one or two should be on the bench for these last five games??:face_with_hand_over_mouth:



I’ve seen Sangha a couple of times now and I’ve seen some qualities in him. I would suggest he shows more potential than Flannagan ever did and he got given his chances. Certainly quicker and more tenacious, a player whose skill set can be bought on to close out games.

I do however find it strange that he is frequently unused in his loan spells. Perhaps he is not coping with the adult game, perhaps we’re pitching his loan moves above his level at the moment and need him to drop a level to get the confidence and game minutes. CM is a difficult position to master and it’s a vital cog in any team. I suppose Kinsella got his experience in playing RB.



Nail head