Meet the Manager: News From Monday Evening's Event Meet the Manager: News From Monday Evening's Event

Meet the Manager: News From Monday Evening's Event

Here is a rundown of events from Monday's Meet the Manager evening, which saw Darrell Clarke and development coach Brian Dutton answer fans' questions,
The event took place at Banks's Stadium and saw several Saddlers fans make their way to the ground to give the manager a grilling ahead of Saturday's season-opener against Northampton Town.

The first question of the evening, concerned the amount of money available in the kitty, to which Darrell Clarke replied that he knew how much had been available when he took the job and asserted that spending at the right time was important, insisting he has been happy with his summer spends.

A comparison was made to Ray Graydon, which was met by DC stating he is massive on discipline, an issue which remains high on his agenda.

Clarke went on to discuss the need for balance in his team, pointing out that it is important to have enough height and experience in his side, before drawing comparison to his previous roles with Bristol Rovers and Salisbury where he was also charged with making wholesale changes.

He continued by saying that he enjoys working with clubs with ambitions to progress up the ladder, insisting he was not here just for the re-build, but rather to fix a broken club, pointing out that as well as needing to buy in to fill gaps in the squad, Walsall are still producing their own players.

DC stated that he still has ambitions to strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes, particularly in terms of adding strike power, admitting he is currently unsure whether Morgan Ferrier will remain with the club.

The gaffer went on to say that he does not mince his words, especially when his side face defeat, and feels that the fans are owed that as they pay good money to attend games.

On Brian Dutton, Clarke said that his fellow coach concentrates on defensive coaching and set-pieces, whilst himself and Marcus Stewart concentrated their efforts on attacking formations.

In a moment he may come to rue, Clarke said that he would welcome fans at the training ground if they wanted to see his work and speak to him in depth about it.

Discussing breakthrough star, Alfie Bates, DC said the youngster had had a great pre-season and has potential for a great future. The manager also took the time to mention his admiration for Callum Cockerill-Mollett whom he also feels has a winning mentality.

On today's events in the boardroom, Clarke insisted he did not want to get involved in club politics, and stated he hadn't been aware of the takeover but went on day that he thinks it is great news for the club, lifting some of the doom and gloom that has been surrounding it of late. He insisted that his focus remains on on-field affairs and giving the fans a team to be proud of. He also joked about the possibility of a payrise.

Moving on to discuss shot-stopper, Liam Roberts, Clarke stated that the player had had a poor season last year and has a lot to prove still, believing this season is make or break for him, as he is out of contract in the summer. He went on to share that Maik Taylor is working with the young 'keeper and that he has spoken to ex-Walsall goalkeeping coach, Neil Cutler who rates Roberts highly.

Clarke went on to confirm that James Clarke will captain the Saddlers during the upcoming campaign. Asserting that a good changing room would sort itself, with the five experienced team members expected to ensure standards don't slip. The manager continuing by saying he feels there is a good mix of youth and experience in the dressing-room this season, something he feels was missing last year.

Moving on to talk about Adebayo, Clarke said that Elijah has the raw potential, which the coaches are working to bring out of him. He also said that the former Fulham striker is driving him barmy, but can be anything he wants to be.

Discussing his ambitions for the upcoming campaign, Clarke stated that the expectation going into the season will always be to win promotion, but affirmed that he is also realistic about the job and where the club currently is, admitting it may take a bit of time for the Saddlers to return to League One, though he is confident they will in time.

Clarke went on to urge supporters to get behind the team, asking fans to save their boo's for the final whistle when the team don't play well.

Darrell went on to say that his aim is to instill a winning mentality in his side. Pointing out that pace, penetration and a high tempo are also needed to win games. Adding that goals are not enough, as demonstrated last season, when the Saddlers had a twenty goal a season striker and still succumbed to the drop. Togetherness being more important than individual efforts when seeking promotion.

Asked why he chose to join Walsall, Clarke stated that he got a good feeling about the club during his interview. Insisting again, that the club has the potential to become a League One outfit once more. Though he feels the gap to the championship is too far too bridge right now, though in time, with the right infrastructure in place, it may be possible.

Darrell discussed his preference for shorter contracts, which allow for players to be moved on more quickly if things are not working out. He then talked about the need for players in his squad who can play a mixture of styles, as no game is the same and therefore no one footballing philosophy can sustain a season. He elaborated, saying that by January improvements should be seen amongst his team so there should be little more change needed after the summer rebuild, unassuming his side remain injury free in the meantime.

Moving back to his younger players, DC chatted about Mitchel Candlin, whom he feels needs to make improvements to certain aspects of his game before he will be seriously considered for contention. He confirmed he has spoken to the young talent and that they are working on it with him.

Dutton then entered the fray, stressing that Clarke and his team are working hard to make Walsall a team to be proud of, continuing to add that the players have worked hard and applied themselves well during pre-season.

With the floor handed back to Clarke, their pre-season trip to Poland was the next topic of discussion. The gaffer affirming that the visit was all about bonding the newly former side. He confirmed that a lot of work was done on the training pitches, but that the trip was not all work, the side enjoying a barbeque and a few drinks together, though the gaffer seemed less enchanted by his teams singing abilities.

We moved on to discussions of the cup competitions, with Clarke suggesting he is keen for his side to do well in them as the revenue they generate adds to his coffers. He was also keen to point out the fans love of the FA Cup. Perhaps a silent nod to their discontentment at certain other competitions.

Moving back again to his squad, Clarke was questioned on the future of former club captain, Adam Chambers. Darrell admitted to being unsure what the future held, as the elder statesman is still struggling with an injury to his foot and is finding it difficult to decide whether the time is right to pursue other business interests. Though the gaffer assured us that the door was open for him to join the team for some training and coaching, saying he would then judge him as he does everyone else.

When pressed, DC confirmed he is now living in Lichfield, though his wife and children have not made the move. The gaffer feeling it is important to commit to the cause and expecting the same from his playing staff. Most of the current crop are local lads or now live in the area, but those who don't are expected to stay in the region before games.

DC made one final mention of the need for players to be scrapping and fighting for places, and with that, the night was over.
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