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Martin O’Connor: Walsall must be forward thinking

Martin O’Connor says the time has come for Walsall’s board to be positive and forward thinking following the club’s relegation into League Two.

Martin O'Connor
Martin O'Connor

The Saddlers’ 12-year stay in English football’s third tier came to an end on Saturday following a 0-0 draw at rivals Shrewsbury.

It means the club’s hierarchy now has some major decisions to make as they look to bounce back at the first time of asking.

First and foremost they have to appoint a new manager. They then have to make decisions on the future of interim boss O’Connor and the 19 players who are out of contract.

And the 51-year-old believes the only thing that matters is the club gets those decisions right.

“What happens now is up to the club,” he said. “The club will make their decisions, the club will hopefully do what is best for the club.

“It’s all about giving the fans something to cheer next year because after a relegation you have to start the new season positively.

“This summer will hopefully show that the club don’t want to be in this position. And that they’re going to be positive and forward thinking.”

O’Connor believes, ultimately, Walsall have gone down because they haven’t been up to the required standard.

“I think, as a group, we have not been good enough,” he continued. “Even before my tenure, we have not been good enough.

“There have been times when we haven’t given the fans anything to shout about.

“Accrington away, Wycombe away. It just wasn’t good enough.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow. But if you look at it wholeheartedly and honestly, the club now need to try and turn this relegation into a positive.

“They need to build on this and have an assault on League One.”

Asked what will happen with the out-of-contract players, O’Connor said he won’t be involved in those talks.

And he also thanked the club’s staff for supporting him following the departure of Dean Keates.

“That situation is nothing to do with me now,” O’Connor said on the player’s contracts. “It’ll be for the club and whoever takes the reins.

“I have got to say a big thank you to the staff who have supported me since Deano left.

“They have been fantastic for me.

“And I just feel so disappointed for the fans. 1,600 came to cheer us on at Shrewsbury.

“Being a local lad it hurts.

“Unfortunately, it’s on my watch and I take full responsibility for that.

“But I also think this is something the club has fought for two or three seasons now and it has caught up with us.”

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