Express & Star

'Consistency is key' in summer business says Walsall co-chairman Ben Boycott

Co-Chairman Ben Boycott believes Walsall have a ‘very strong spine’ of a squad as they look to make summer additions.

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The Saddlers released 11 players, alongside a handful of loanees, once the season was over – before appointing interim boss Mat Sadler on a permanent basis.

In his second open letter to supporters, Boycott insists the squad is in a healthy position with those under contract, heading into the transfer window.

“We feel that in building forward, consistency is key,” he said.

“After a near total rebuild of the team in the summer of 2022, we have a very strong spine of players to build around into next season – players who buy into what we’re trying to do here, and in whom we believe greatly.

“We also have some exciting young prospects who will be with the first team. We are actively working to build around this core, and to add the needed support staff to complement Mat Sadler.

“The foundations are solid. That said, 22/23 was a year that left all of us wanting more. I have not been shy about sharing the intense frustration that I felt with the turn the season took after January.

“So, while there is clearly an excellent foundation here, there is also a clear mandate to attack the 2023 off-season with resolve and aggression.”

On keeping Sadler in post, too, Boycott is adamant the former defender is the right man for the job.

He added: “We conducted an extensive recruitment process in light of this strategy, and Mat was evaluated the same as every other candidate – and out of that, he was the first choice. I believe in the hard work that we have done and are doing to define Walsall Football Club. For this moment in the club’s history, we didn’t need the candidate with the most name recognition.

“We needed the candidate who best fit the strategy. We needed the candidate who desires to play the type of front-foot football we want to play, who will be absolutely emphatic around our culture and values, who will embrace the more advanced data-informed elements of what we are putting together, who will put his arm around players on the first team and in the academy to develop them and get the best out of them, and who will be relentless around creating a buttoned-up professional environment.

“We needed the candidate who will 100 per cent buy into this strategy, get the bit between his teeth, and battle every day to make this vision a reality. We needed the candidate who is deeply invested in the success of this football club. That is why we chose Mat.

“I believe that Mat is a highly qualified, intelligent, and intuitive football professional. I know for a fact that he has the respect of our players and can get the best out of them. And I believe that especially with an experienced support staff around him, he can grow with us and be a very capable head coach for us.

“More than all of that, I believe that Mat is the character we need to help lead this charge – with the grit, determination, ambition, and integrity that this club is going to be all about.

“I am confident in this decision, which is a direct result of the football strategy I communicated in my previous letter, and I’m asking every Saddler to get behind Mat and get behind his team.”