Dean Saunders likens league leading Walsall’s patience with young talent to Spireites approach

Chesterfield vs Gillingham - Dean Saunders - Pic By James Williamson
Chesterfield vs Gillingham - Dean Saunders - Pic By James Williamson

Dean Saunders says the same kind of patient approach that Saturday’s hosts Walsall have adopted will pay dividends for Chesterfield.

The Welshman takes his Spireites side to the League One leaders expecting a tough game against Dean Smith’s youngsters.

And he believes there’s a lesson to be learned from the West Midlands outfit.

“It’s the same group of players, he’s just had some patience with them.

“They couldn’t win at some points last season and he’s just stuck with them.

“They’re a lot of young lads from Premier League clubs who’ve been released, they’re a really young team and he’s had to bear with them.

“All of a sudden they’re not letting goals in, they’re playing good football and it’s similar to what we’re trying to do.

“The club has sold some players, and we’re trying to go down that route where we give young lads a chance and we play football everybody likes watching. “But you have to have a bit of patience with them sometimes. They’re finding their feet and when they get to grips with it you’ll see them perform.”

He stated the importance of not getting carried away about Chesterfield’s recent form – with three wins in 10 league outings – and insisted he was well aware it wouldn’t all be plain sailing when he took the job.

“We’ve lost players in pre-season. I knew there would be a bit of upheaval and there’s players playing in different positions, we’ve had a few sendings off, I knew there would be ups and downs.

“Walsall will have ups and downs, they’re top now but don’t be surprised if they go five without a win, it’s that type of league.

This week Saunders has been emphasising the importance of keeping things tight at one end of the pitch and being clinical at the other.

Saturday saw them undone by a Gillingham side who scored three goals without dominating Spireites.

The Proact boss said: “Sometimes you’d rather play bad and win, but you’ve got to keep things in perspective.

“We are scoring goals and we’re making chances every game. We’ve just got to take chances.

“Playing the football we play, with everybody involved, open and expansive football, when you make those chances you have to take them.

“Otherwise teams are coming straight through us and you’re giving them hope.

“One thing we’ve gone on about is making sure we’re getting in there where it matters, not in the middle third, in both boxes.

“Last week there were three times when we got out-thought in our box. In the last 10 minutes we missed five or six chances.”

While the younger members of Saunders’ squad might not yet have the consistency that experience will bring, he sees cause for optimism.

“We’re going to have lows, but we had some good positives last week, Rai Simons is 19, makes his debut, comes on and scores and that’s what I want.

“Things are not always going to go our way, when you give young players game time they’re not always going to get everything right.

“The secret is to try and get them into a team that’s winning, slot one or two of them in at a time now and again, so you’re not having to put a load of them in.

“But they’re doing well. The reserves won on Wednesday again, they’ve won every game and I was able to put some 17 and 18-year-olds in that team, the performance was great again. I’m really pleased with all of that.

“We’ve just got to pick up two or three wins quickly to put us in a decent position again.”