WALSALL FC: THE SECRET'S OUT WALSALL FC: THE SECRET'S OUT
Posted by: Bescot Banter

WALSALL FC: THE SECRET'S OUT

Last Monday evening, Walsall Football Club defeated third placed Peterborough United 2-0 in a televised Sky Bet League One clash, and in the process, displayed a style of football that Saddlers fans have long known existed, but had been kept under-wraps by the lack of media coverage, be it the rushed twenty seconds of highlights often seen on the BBC's The Football League Show or the general media contempt for so-called 'lower league football'.
Last Monday evening, Walsall Football Club defeated third placed Peterborough United 2-0 in a televised Sky Bet League One clash, and in the process, displayed a style of football that Saddlers fans have long known existed, but had been kept under-wraps by the lack of media coverage, be it the rushed twenty seconds of highlights often seen on the BBC's The Football League Show or the general media contempt for so-called 'lower league football'.

Ever since his appointment as Caretaker manager in January 2011, and as permanent manager just over two-weeks later, Dean Smith, along with First-Team coach Richard O'Kelly have instilled a style of football, not seen at the club in many-a-season.

Gone are the days of long-ball hoofing and playground style kick-and-rush, in it's place, is a patient, play from the back, passing game, which often relies on a fluid formation that can evolve during the game, from a six at-the-back defensive mode, to an all-out-attacking mode which often overwhelms the opposition and leads to a large amount of possession for the Saddlers.

This new tactic has seen the Saddlers simply pass their opponents out of the game, and often into submission, as seen in the fantastic performance which saw Walsall defeat bitter rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 away at Molineux.

The adoption of this style of play has also led to the emergence of several players, including fairly recent arrival Sam Mantom, who, especially this season, has cemented his place in the first-team with many impressive displays, including a solid performance against the aforementioned Peterborough. His form has not gone unnoticed, as the 21-year-old, former West Bromwich Albion youth penned a fresh two-and-a-half year contract, just last week, despite penning an 18-month contract in January.

Much of this new style is down to Richard O'Kelly, who is determined for the club to play a certain way, and not to fall back into old habits, which some say were partly to blame for the clubs sixteen-game losing streak suffered last season.

Along with Dean Smith and Richard O'Kelly, is club Physio and Fitness Coach Jon Whitney who has devised a variety of fitness and conditioning sessions which are already bearing fruit for both the first-team and further down the pecking order, the Youth and Reserve sides are both in tremendous form, frequently down to higher levels of fitness to their opponents, which allows them to put their opponents to the sword late on, as seen in the recent Walsall Senior Cup tie away at Bilston Town, where the Saddlers struck three late goals to defeat their ailing opponents.

Also included in the new regime, is new goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler, who joined the set up in May of this year. Neil has moved quickly to establish new techniques amongst the 'keepers which has also played it's part in this season's success. First-choice 'keeper Richard O'Donnell has been solid between the sticks this campaign, and has helped the club avoid the issues they suffered last term, where following the poor form of then first-choice David Grof, The Saddlers were forced to loan-in several stoppers, some twice.

All of the above factors have come together to build a solid foundation that is already proving fruitful, and is set to propel the club to new highs in years to come. This is something that supporters have known for quite some time, it's just a shame that everyone else knows now too...
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