Soccer Magazine


By Bescot Banter @BescotBanter
As the final whistle blows on yet another eventful season, The Saddlers finish just one place above the npower League One relegation zone. As of December 18th 2010 The Saddlers were in twenty third place, five points off safety and going through a run which saw them depart the FA Cup at the second round stage and despite the odd encouraging result were prime candidates for relegation.
Since January 4th 2010 and the appointment of Dean Smith as caretaker manager, and then permanently in April, Walsall have seen a sharp upturn in fortunes, which saw them pick up several much needed results, including; a 6-1 thrashing of relegation rivals Bristol Rovers, and a 5-2 victory over Hartlepool United, while some matches still ended in defeat, there was a clear change in attitude throughout the squad, which saw belief and confidence grow and obviously, performances improve.
Throughout the end of season run in there has been an air of confidence amongst the supporters, which itself is unusual, after many years of being a Saddlers supporter you become resigned to the possibility of relegation. The club had also begun show an air of confidence and belief they could rescue their season, which of course they duly did.
But what next for The Saddlers, where do they go from here, will we simply sign the current squad to further twelve month contracts, move more youth players forward and simply ignore the clear problems surrounding the team, or will Chairman Jeff Bonser and new Chief-Executive Stefan Gamble back manager Dean Smith and his team with transfer funds, funds which Gamble said were available earlier in the season but were used to secure loan deals rather than permanent ones. If the club is forced to loan rather than buy it must bring in players that will add to the squad rather than the bench, Manchester City and Northern Ireland international defender Ryan McGivern was signed on a full season loan deal but was sent back to his parent club in January after becoming a bit-part player, which clearly wasn't benefiting either party, obviously he had a lot to add to the squad but was under utilised and became disenchanted with life at The Banks's Stadium which subsequently affected his performances and led to the early departure. 
There are other players however, who have joined the Saddlers and really added to the squad, one player in particular is ex-Scunthorpe and Huddersfield defender Andy Butler, who through his performances has cemented himself as a real fan favorite and is a prime candidate for a new longer-term contract and depending on other players contract offers would be a popular club captain.
Walsall also has a fairly successful youth system which over the years has produced lots of potential stars, one of the current crop is Northern Ireland U21 striker Will Grigg who has shown flashes of the potential that saw him called up to the first team in the first place, he could be further utilised next season, and used in the correct way, he could be a huge asset to The Saddlers, that is unless another club offers anything resembling a transfer fee, this will inevitably lead to his departure, as in the cases of Deeney, Fryatt, Gerrard and Dann to name a few.
Obviously there are several options available to Walsall, lets hope whichever one they choose it leads to a more successful campaign next season.

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