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Dean Smith helped sell Saddlers to me, says Darrell Clarke

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Darrell Clarke has revealed he spoke to Dean Smith before deciding whether to accept the manager’s job at Walsall.

Darrell Clarke

Clarke, who left Bristol Rovers in December, was officially unveiled as the Saddlers new boss on Tuesday.

But before he accepted the role he wanted to find out about the people behind the scenes with Walsall’s board having come in for heavy criticism following their relegation from League One. And Clarke revealed Villa boss Smith – who was Saddlers manager between 2011 and 2015 – had nothing but praise for the club.

“We had a chat because he knows the club very well,” said Clarke. “Being honest, in my position, you have to do your due diligence and find out about the people you will be working with.

“But when I met the chairman (Jeff Bonser), Stefan (Gamble, chief executive) and Dan (Mole, club secretary) I got a good feel then.

“Then I spoke to Dean because I knew he would be open and honest about them as well. And he only had great things to say about the club and the people in it.

“I have got a passionate group of people behind me who want to do well for the football club. When you get relegated there is a lot of unrest in the supporters base. I get that, they are disappointed.

“The only way to get them back on side is by winning football matches and playing entertaining football.

“That’s the aim while also building a proper football club in the background as well.”

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Meanwhile, Walsall did not miss out on the signing of former Bristol Rovers midfielder Chris Lines despite reports to the contrary.

The former Sheffield Wednesday man signed a two-year deal at Northampton on Wednesday after leaving the Memorial Stadium.

But it was reported in Bristol that Clarke made a late move to bring the 33-year-old to the Banks’s Stadium.

In a tweet in response to the story Lines said: “Nonsense. We have spoken as friends, I have nothing but positive things to say about this great manager, great bloke and someone I thank for all the support he has given me this year.”

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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