There was a bit of surprising news today, as Walsall sold a player to a fellow League Two side. Liam Roberts departs after years at the club. The move was not something fans were expecting, but one that has been met with a very similar reaction across the fan base.
Best for both parties
Quite simply, Liam Roberts time at Walsall was at an end. He had suffered a few mixed seasons that started when the side got relegated. The most frustrating thing about Roberts time at Walsall is that things started with so much promise. He came in to the team in the 17/18 season, replacing Mark Gillespie, and was a part of the Dean Keates side that managed to avoid relegation. Roberts was a breathe of fresh air in goal, however since then, his solid keeping slipped.
Slipped is an apt word, especially given the mistakes that started creeping into his game. Roberts has always been a good shot stopper, but the command of his area, ability to come and collect a ball, and of course kicking, has not improved, and that was not good enough for fans.
With the serious errors that he had made, it was only a matter of time before Rose was given a chance. When that happened, the end of Roberts time seemed on the cards. Walsall looked more comfortable with Rose in goal, and with the growing frustration at Roberts, him leaving feels right for the club, and right for the player too.
Good deal for the club
Rose has come in to compete for a starting place, however he has now overtaken Roberts as the first choice keeper. Having two keepers at a similar age was always going to be a difficult to balance, and Roberts move has been fueled by game time. This indicates that Rose would have kept his starting place if Roberts stayed.
This now opens the door for a younger keeper to come through, and learn from Maik Taylor, especially as Walsall will receive money from Roberts moving. The deal to sell him is a great bit of business by the club, and although it won’t be vast sums, moves a player along who’s career at the club had come to an end.
It shows once again the intent by Fullarton and Taylor to have the best players at the club, and move on the ones who aren’t performing. It also shows fearlessness from the club. Letting a keeper that is a good shot stopper for League Two go is a move a few clubs would not have had the confidence to do, however Walsall have a new found attitude of ‘we can find better’.
I always wanted Roberts to do well. He is a local lad who acknowledged his mistakes and did not do anything to upset fans. He did not down tools, and despite the view of the fans, he did try his best. One of the big mistakes was conceding a penalty against Crawley late on. It was a clumsy and rash attempt to get the ball, but it came from a desire to win.
The fresh start is what is needed. A new club, new surroundings, and a new coach to change things up. I wish him well, and there are no ill-feelings as he leaves.