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Walsall fans want answers after Dean Keates sacking

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Walsall fans are today hoping to get some clarity on the vacant manager’s position following the sacking of Dean Keates.

Jeff Bonser chats to Martin O'Connor directly after the match.

Keates, a Saddlers legend after winning three promotions with the club as a player, was dismissed on Saturday following the 3-1 loss to Oxford.

The 40-year-old was relieved of his duties immediately after the game, with Walsall having now lost each of their last five matches.

But while the club issued a short statement on its website thanking Keates for his work, a spokesman confirmed there would be no further announcement regarding the managerial situation over the weekend.

The statement said: “Walsall Football Club have tonight parted company with manager Dean Keates with immediate effect. The club would like to place on record its thanks to Dean for all his hard work and dedication during his time with the Saddlers and wish him well for the future.”

It is understood the board opted to sack Keates following their disappointment at the team’s abject performance against Oxford.

Directly after the dismissal, owner Jeff Bonser was seen holding talks with first-team coach Martin O’Connor in the stands of the Banks’s Stadium. But it is not known if those talks were with a view of O’Connor taking charge for the remaining five games of the season.

It is likely the Walsall board will make an internal appointment until the end of the campaign.

But as well as O’Connor, the Saddlers also have former Bristol Rovers manager John Ward on their coaching staff.

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Assistant manager Andy Davies is also understood to still be at the club despite Keates’ departure.

In the hours after Keates’ sacking, the focus began to shift on who will replace the 40-year-old on a permanent basis. Recently sacked Southend boss Chris Powell has been installed as the early favourite by bookmakers.

Former Bristol Rovers chief Darrell Clarke and ex-Shrewsbury manager Paul Hurst are also at short odds.

The Express & Star also understands former Leeds and Peterborough manager Steve Evans has not been approached.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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