Goalkeeping coach enjoying caretaker role...Neil Cutler admits that being Walsall’s temporary manager has been ‘a massive learning curve’ – but says he is relishing the challenge.
Cutler, along with coaches Jon Whitney and John Ward, is in caretaker charge of the Saddlers following Dean Smith’s departure to Brentford.
And despite feeling slightly out of his comfort zone, the 39-year-old says he is enjoying his new responsibility.
“It’s been a massive learning curve for me,” admitted Cutler, who played for Stoke, Stockport and Rotherham.
“I’m the goalkeeping coach but I like to have an input into what we’re doing and how we plan. When Dean was here, he’d get my opinion on shape and selection.
“Me and Richard O’Kelly (Smith’s assistant) would have a big say into what we did in training sessions and how I linked my sessions into what he was doing on a daily basis.
“That helped me moving forward and this has helped me again, taking a few outfield sessions and having more of an impact on the preparation, planning and tactical side of games.
“The lads have been outstanding, they’ve bought into what we’re doing and have just got on with it.
“It’s a great learning curve for me – a step out of my comfort zone – but I’m really enjoying it.”
The Saddlers remain unbeaten under their caretaker trio, having beaten local-rivals Shrewsbury and drawn with Chesterfield in the FA Cup second round.
And Cutler believes the three coaches complement each other well and bring different qualities to the team.
“We’ve got a really good set-up between the three of us,” he added.
“The experience John Ward brings is a massive help, and the drive and enthusiasm of Jon Whitney is massive as well.
“He’s a really intelligent guy and not just a physio – he’s the one who’s driven the philosophy over the last few years and developed the way we work on a daily basis.
“He’s helped the lads in terms of fast training and the way they are physically and mentally.
“It’s not just luck that we’re one of the fittest teams in the league and that our reactions to losing possession are the best in the league.
“It has to be worked on daily and he’s the one who’s done that.
“I bring something different to the table and we all bring something else. It’s working really well so far.”
Walsall are on the road again this weekend with a tricky trip to Steven Pressley’s Fleetwood.
The Saddlers won 2-0 when the sides met in the FA Cup last month – but Cutler insists we won’t be taking the Cod Army lightly.
“Me and Jon Whitney went up to watch them on Tuesday night which gave us a good idea of how they set up,” said Cutler.
“They’re a good team, their manager has got them well organised and they’ve got some good players.
“It’ll be a tough task but we’ll be well organised and I think we’ll be fine.”
Top-scorer Tom Bradshaw (ankle) is a doubt, while midfielder Isaiah Osbourne (knee) is a long-term absentee.