Former Walsall manager Dean Smith has admitted that former Walsall Chairman Jeff Bonser cut his budget by £200,000 in the summer of 2011 and again in 2012.
Smith also admitted that he had to tell the Chairman and the board (at the time) of how the club should be ran.
Dean Smith delivered a speech to students at Birmingham City Business School about organisation and culture.
Smith said “There was a disenchantment between the owner and supporters at the time”
”We were fighting relegation at the time but we survived on goal difference – they cut the budget by £200,000. Following season we stopped up by 7 points – they cut the budget by £200,000”
”I went to the chairman and said the budget is now bottom half of League 2 and asked him what he wanted to do with his football club. He said what do you think we should do?”
Smith then set up a plan and a philosophy which he had to share with the board and outline his visions for the club. It’s quite staggering that a rookie manager had to tell his Chairman and board on how to do things.
Smith also discussed how he helped turn a players mentality around whilst at Walsall.
“We worked big-time on building a culture at Walsall and there was one story that we knew we were on the right track. Whether I’m at Walsall, Brentford or Aston Villa, people ask me about culture because there can be good culture and bad culture.”
“There was one player who, when I first met him, was in my youth team and he done something at training and I’d given him a warning letter and did something the following day and I gave him another warning letter and one day he walks in and he’s got a sausage sandwich.“
“Straight away I took it off him, shared it between me and my staff and then pulled the lad in and said listen, ‘What are you doing?’ and then he explained to me, ‘Well, I live at my aunties, my mum and dad are separated, I feel like I can’t ask them for breakfast because they have to feed their kids as well so that was the only thing I could“
“It struck a chord with me. He’s different to what I am, he’s different to what some of the other lads are but I need to help him get better. I need to make him a better footballer and let’s see where he goes.”
“One year later, we sold him for £1.2m I think it was. It wasn’t the fact that we sold him that I knew he’d got a chance. We was in the canteen the one day and somebody dropped some paper on the floor and, as he walked past, he stopped and put it in the bin.“
From looking at the transfers around that time it would suggest that Dean Smith is talking about midfielder Jamie Paterson who we sold to Nottingham Forest in 2013 for over £1m.
During his tenure at Walsall, Deano managed to turn around a faltering club and turn it into a promotion side and also took the club to Wembley for the first time in our history.
Lets not forget though that Dean Smith left this plan and philosophy without completing it. Many could say that the offer of Brentford was just too hard to turn down given the financial constraints at Walsall.
It just goes to prove how exceptional Dean Smith was at man-management, he never berated his players in the press and the current boss could take a little from his friend knowing that hounding your players in the media is not the way forward.
Smith’s speech is a clear indicator that maybe we require a Director Of Football to oversee these type of projects.
You can see the full video below