Richard O'Kelly talks style and substance...
SADDLERS Assistant Manager, Richard O’Kelly insists the club can maintain an entertaining brand of football, whilst winning more matches.
As a former forward, the 58-year old was in the business of scoring goals during his playing days and admitted there may be a change of approach ahead of the new season.
“I think there will be some games when, yes, we’ll play the same way and some games where we’ll have to change things,” said O’Kelly.
“The philosophy we’ve installed into the players is to be constructive and entertaining.
“Of course we like to be pleasing on the eye but we’re well aware that we didn’t score enough goals last season.
“I think we’ll be more adventurous. We want to see the players trying things in the final third, having confidence in themselves and taking a chance.”
O’Kelly has adopted a hands on approach to training sessions since rejoining Dean Smith’s backroom staff 3 years ago and is credited with developing the clubs style of play.
Well versed to the challenges of League One football, the West Bromwich-born number two insists the club will once again deal with the demands of the division in a competitive manner.
“People talk about the physicality of the division but what is physicality?” he questioned.
“I think some people look at being physical as being brave and competing.
“Because of the nature of the beast, footballers are naturally competitive but we’re looking for them to compete intelligently.
“For me, one of the bravest things a player can do is to get on the ball and pass it.”
Now approaching his fourth season in the Banks’s dugout, O’Kelly has overseen the transition from the development squad to the first team reckoning for a host of young players.
With the likes of Rico Henry and Liam Kinsella making their senior debuts last season, O’Kelly has challenged the Saddlers' contingent of starlets to give Dean Smith another selection headache this time around.
“We want our players to be adaptable; to the opposition, the playing surface and the conditions.
“Every day in training we try and present the players with a problem where they have to go and solve it.
“When it comes to match day, you hope they can then solve problems and manage situations themselves.
“It’s about in-game management. You’d like to think it becomes second nature to them.
“It’s our job to develop not just the technical and physical aspects of our players but the tactical as well.
“Our young players are a year older, wiser and more experienced. They pushed the more senior players continually last season and I expect the same this year.
“In the two days we got them in in June, you could see the maturity beyond their years, even in the second year youth players.
“It helps that they have came through our system where they are given responsibility from an early age. It all bodes well for them.”