Blog: Welcome and good luck

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Mmmm… so the new management team is Chris Hutchings and the legendary Martin O'Connor. Welcome back boys, you knew escape was impossible! writes blogger Mark Jones.

Mmmm… so the new management team is Chris Hutchings and the legendary Martin O'Connor. Welcome back boys, you knew escape was impossible!

writes blogger Mark Jones


Was it a surprise? A little bit I suppose, Chris's name had been banded about without really coming to the forefront and I would imagine most of us assume that Martin has been brought in as a crowd pleaser.

Is it a good decision? Well people will point to Hutch's lack of success as a manager in his own right, but every job he's taken has been in difficult circumstances following on from his mate Paul Jewell. There's also a significant difference between managing in the Premiership to being in charge in the real world of League One.

Chris has been around a long time though and its fair to expect that if he's got anything about him he should have developed his own ideas on how he'd want to manage a football club.

And of course he was briefly a Saddlers player, even if it was for the duration of one of our most unsuccessful seasons ever.


My main memory of Hutchings the player is from the away end at Torquay. Veteran keeper Ronnie Green had been clattered by the opposition forward as he came for a cross right in front of the travelling fans; and from his right back position, probably in his role as a senior player, Chris screamed at Ron 'Next time knock his ****in head off.' Quality.

There was plenty of that spirit in our new Assistant Manager Martin O'Connor. Alongside Andy Rammell and Alan Buckley, Martin is one of my all-time favourite players.

Easily the best all-round midfield player I've ever seen in a Walsall shirt. He played with passion, commitment and a will-to-win and that area between the two penalty boxes was his domain.

As a local boy he knew what it meant to wear a Walsall shirt and he was a fantastic leader. I see no reason why these qualities won't be carried over into his new role, and I wouldn't fancy being the Walsall player who walks into the dressing room to face up to Mart having not given 100%.


That's not to get carried away though. It's still an incredibly tough job, all of the problems that have been well documented recently are still there. And both Chris Hutchings and Martin O'Connor have a lot to prove in their new roles.

Fortunately for them we are in mid-table and they should have the rest of the season as a bit of a narrow learning curve. Assuming of course there's no dramatic slide into the relegation zone, which has only ever happened in 1998 under Sorensen … and 2004 under Colon Lee … 2005 under Merse and 2006 under Kevin Broadhurst.

Do the new appointments herald a change of thinking at board level? Possibly, it's clear that those at the top have been rocked by the sharp drop in crowds and I'm seeing the word 'reconnect' appearing in a lot of articles about the new duo.

Involving Martin O'Connor in the management team seems to be a move designed with popular approval in mind, you have to wonder what the fans' reaction would have been to a Hutchings/A.N.Other ticket.

It's also struck me that Martin could well be someone who will speak his mind and won't care who he upsets from the Chairman to the Cleaners to the Football Consultant. And that can't be a bad thing.

What do we expect? In his concise statement which accompanied the introduction of the new boys, Jeff hinted that the fans need to back the team.

I've never actually thought that this has been an issue and I think Chris and Martin will get a fair crack of the whip, especially if they can send out teams that look like they care.

Personally I'd like to see us try and play more football and be less reliant on hoofing the ball up to Jabo, maybe with one or two players played in the right position for a change too.

At the end of the day I'm just thankful that we've not ended up with one of the motley collection of losers, has-beens and no-hopers that were connected with the hot seat. I mean Ian Atkins? Do me a favour.

Welcome aboard Chris and Martin, as I said a few months back to the last guy, good luck - you're going to need it.

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