Posted by: Bescot Banter


In another of his weekly columns, Scott Brotherton takes a look at the youth set up at the club and considers where the future lies for the Saddlers.

In another of his weekly columns, Scott Brotherton takes a look at the youth set up at the club and considers where the future lies for the Saddlers;

I have found myself thinking more and more about the Saddlers youth team this week, and have built up some considerable excitement over what the future holds for Walsall Football Club.

It all boils down to the football philosophy at the club, which is still very much in its infancy. When you think that it has been around a year since the new style was unveiled, and take into account the quality of play we are already witnessing in a lot of matches, it bodes extremely well for the future.

Bearing in mind that the current crop of players have had about 12 months to adapt to the passing, possession-based style, imagine how much training the youth stars will receive. With the philosophy cascading down through the age groups, it is a tantalising prospect to think of what a team could do when they have been brought up passing and playing together for years.

In the current squad there are many outside influences to contend with, as none of the starting line-up are graduates from Walsall’s academy. I believe it’s a case of it just clicking for some players who are natural passers of the ball (Sam Mantom comes to mind), while others might be used to a more direct approach from their previous clubs and it takes longer to teach them the ways of ‘sexy football’.

Without heaping too much pressure on them, I feel we might see the start of the transformation with the young players who have just moved up from the Saddlers’ youth. Teenagers like Reece Flanagan and Jake Heath may surprise a few fans in my opinion with how comfortable they are on the ball, when they finally break into the team.

Of course the team at the moment isn't exactly playing route one, but they will inevitably get better with time. And who has more time than the youngsters, playing a style that is all they know?

The continuation of the philosophy relies a lot on whether Dean Smith sticks around. He won’t get the sack, that ship has sailed, but he could get a serious offer from the Championship. It’s a league that seems to go through managers at a rate of one a week, and Deano is deservedly attracting lots of attention. The coaching staff often follow a manager or leave soon afterwards, meaning we would be back to square one.

I hope he sees himself here for the long-haul though and unless a job is too good to turn down, I am confident Smith will remain at the Banks’s. He has planted the seeds of this football revolution and will want to be around to see it blossom.

By: Scott Brotherton
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