Matt Taylor planning to serve up an attacking brand at Walsall

Walsall head coach Matt Taylor insists he is excited by the prospect of a blank slate with the squad as he pledges to play attractive football.

Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor

The new boss arrives at the Banks’s Stadium with only 10 players under contract and a further three in negotiations for new deals.

That means he will be given the chance to build half of the squad from scratch in his own vision and has assured fans he wants to play expansive and attacking football.

When asked about the small squad left at the club, Taylor said: “That excites me because it allows the football club to sign players that fit in with the philosophy, of the football club first and foremost, then of us as a group of staff and the way we want to play.

“I’m really excited about that. Jamie (Fullarton) and I have spent hours, countless hours of phone calls, meetings to identify the right targets but the right target is the right person.

“I want us to play attacking, free football, where it’s imperative the players understand their roles, understand their responsibilities and they know their job.

“I’ve played in many teams where there are areas you‘re not sure on and part of the role of the staff will be that each and every player understands their job and that the players understand the identity.

“Look it’s going to be tough. There will be things that the players probably haven’t seen before from us as a group of staff. We will be asking things from the players that maybe they haven’t had asked of them before.

“It’s going to be a learning process but it’s one that I feel, with good players and we have good players in the building, we’re going to add more good players to that group, they’ll understand and once all the hard work of pre-season is done, hopefully we will start to see the identity on the football pitch.”

Among the players still at the club, four of them have recently graduated from the academy and two more – Liam Kinsella and Liam Roberts – have previously come through the youth ranks.

The academy has been an important resource for Walsall and with chairman Leigh Pomlett keen to keep bringing through young talent, Taylor has said that will be another focus of his in the coming months.

He added: “Along with Jamie and Miguel (Llera), in terms of trying to get that link and establish that link a bit better between the academy and between the first team, that’s vitally important.

“Because you’ve got players now in the youth team, you’ve got players now in the younger age groups here that could go on to be potential stars for Walsall. But it’s imperative that they have a platform.

“Our eyes as the senior coaches will be vitally important that we get to see the players.

“But also conversation and that open dialogue with all departments of the football club, especially 100 per cent with the academy.”

The Saddlers will be hoping to welcome supporters back to the Banks’s Stadium next season after a difficult campaign without them.

It will offer the new head coach a first opportunity to meet them, too, but he is adamant the team must excite the fans on their return.

Taylor said: “Football for me, watching the last 14 months, has been really tough. I’ve really struggled. That’s from a fans perspective. So to have fans back in the stadium is massive.

“When you look at this football club and all the other football clubs, if you don’t have fans, we don’t have football. Yes we have the game as it is on the pitch but we don’t have the atmosphere, we don’t have everything that comes along with it.

“I’m a football fan and I can’t wait to get back to watch football myself, take my son, take my daughter. But also to have fans back in this stadium will be immense for, not just us as coaches, but for the players. Because you feed off of that, it’s the energy that they can bring.

“You can be the 12th man. Yes we want to get the fans back in here, but then our job is to excite the fans, but also to deliver them three points on a Saturday, three points on a Tuesday. Because that’s ultimately what they’re coming here for.

“Just remember that any football club, wherever it may be in the country, is not that football club without the fans, without that connection with the players and staff. I’m hugely excited to meet the fans and hopefully we can get them back in numbers and before long the stadium will be packed out.”

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