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Dean Keates reflects on six months in charge of Walsall

Manager Dean Keates says he is pleased with his first six months in charge of Walsall – but only up to a point.

Dean Keates
Dean Keates

The Saddlers have made an impressive start to the 2018/19 campaign with the loss to Doncaster on Saturday their first in the league so far this season.

Keates replaced Jon Whitney as manager back in March and kept the club in League One before then embarking on a summer rebuild.

But while improvements have been made, the boss insisted he still has a lot to do to get the club where he wants it.

“To this point I am pleased – we achieved what we wanted last season and this season we have done OK,” the 40-year-old said.

“I am very disappointed with Saturday. Our pride was hurt.

“But there has been a lot of change. We have integrated the new players into the squad and they have had an impact.

“There are still a lot of players from last season so there has been a lot of juggling.

“We added one or two early. But then a few fans panicked because we hadn’t added too much.

“But with Ama (Bakayoko) moving on, there was money freed up.

“We had to wait and had to be patient, but there was always a list of targets there. It’s been different and a challenge. We are happy with where we are at the moment, but we do need a reaction at the weekend.”

Keates described the past six-months as an ‘emotional rollercoaster’.

But he has still loved every minute of being in charge of his home town club.

“This club represents where I am from and what I have been about my whole life,” the manager continued. “It’s my hometown club. I stood on the terraces at Fellows Park and at the Banks’s.

“From the moment I took the job, you could say it’s been an emotional rollercoaster.

“I came in and it wasn’t the best of circumstances. I knew Whitters (Whitney) well from working with him.

“You don’t want to come in under those circumstances, but that is the business we are in.

“And I didn’t envisage getting this job so soon – I was only at Wrexham for just over year.

“But it was a job that would always appeal to me.

“And when I got the phone call and everything got sorted it was something I wanted to do – at the time I was thought ‘Right, lets give this my best shot.’”

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