Express & Star

Mat Sadler reveals recipe to Walsall's recent turnaround

Walsall have embarked on a remarkable rise up the League Two table – leaping from 16th to sixth over the course of a fascinating five-match winning streak.


Yet amid the excitement and growing expectation, the Walsall boss will tell you he has always been the same old Mat Sadler.

Consistent in victory and consistent in defeat has been his mantra from the outset. Never too high and never too low has been the recipe for the team’s turnaround.

And that top-to-bottom approach, of everybody feeling part of the project, has been key to uniting the club both on and off the pitch.

“Everyone is working so hard to play their part in making a football club that we’re all proud of,” Sadler revealed. “From the media guys, the commercial team, the ticket office staff, my backroom staff, everybody. I suppose I want to value and pay thanks to that.

“I said from the moment I walked through the door about being on this journey together and we can all have good times along the way.

“But you don’t do it if you don’t feel part of it. Otherwise you kind of feel separate from it.

“So whether or not that helps me out on the grass or whether it helps me in the kitchen with Mandy, the chef.

“Whatever that percentage is, it’s just important we keep those relationships strong.

“I want to make everyone feel part of it because they are all doing such a strong job for us. That goes for everyone.”

Sadler and his team have created a culture at Essington that focuses on the human being just as much as the footballer, which has in turn translated into results on the pitch.

That is difficult to master when results are unfavourable but the Walsall boss, still in his debut campaign as manager at Bescot, has been consistent in his approach throughout.

“There will be times when everyone else is going through certain things and we have to rally around them,” he noted.

“That’s humans. We all get sucked into football being the be-all and end-all but everyone is going through their own problems.

“If we can all play our part in feeling strong about that together then we will all feel a big part of it when it comes right and the good times come.”

Darren Byfield, who famously scored the winning goal in the 2001 Second Division play-off final against Reading, also returned to Bescot last summer as first team coach.

And the former striker believes the transparency among the coaching staff has helped harness the togetherness in the camp.

“I don’t think it works unless you have a staff that are together and communicate with each other because in that way we’re all on the same page in terms of what we want from the players,” Byfield said earlier in the campaign.

“The gaffer is someone that manages well with a top to bottom approach and he’ll listen and ask for our opinion.

“Of course, the gaffer will always have the final call but he is one of those managers who will ask a lot from the staff in terms of what we think and what we’re going to be doing.

“He always keeps us up to date and it’s enjoyable to be part of.”