Express & Star

Discipline the key for Dean Smith this season

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Walsall boss Dean Smith has brushed off suggestions his team needs to be more aggressive next season.


The Saddlers have won the FA's Respect & Fair Play Award for the last two year's, prompting some fans to question if they are tough enough to win promotion into the Championship.

But Smith believes maintaining a disciplined squad is key to any future success, something he learnt from legendary former Saddlers' boss Ray Graydon.

"The team doesn't need more bite, not at all," Smith said. "Looking at the Telford game, one of the things I was really disappointed with was the amount of free-kicks we gave away.

"I think if you do that you are asking for trouble. You are asking the opposition to put the ball in your box.

"Discipline is key and it is central to everything we do at this football club.

"I learnt that from Ray Graydon – I didn't actually play under Ray but I have spoken to him at length.

"I have also spoken with players that played for him.

"He was very successful here as a manager and he taught me discipline is key.

"If you look at the stats, teams win more games with 11 men on the pitch than with 10, and last season we didn't have anybody sent off."

Despite slipping to a 1-0 defeat to AFC Telford in Tuesday night's pre-season friendly, Smith was pleased to see Milan Lalkovic make his second debut.

"He got a great reception from the fans which he will do because he is a very good player," the boss said. "Sometimes he over did it, but other times he showed good bits of quality.

"We know what he can bring to the team and now it's important we all work so we can bring out the best of him."

n Villa have confirmed they have sold out their 3,426 tickets for Saturday's friendly at the Banks's. Tickets are still available for Walsall fans.