Bescot Banter: Never a quiet week at Walsall

It has been quite an eventful week in our portion of the Black Country, with a surprise managerial departure and a less-surprising defeat to take a look at.

Brian Dutton and Walsall manager Darrell Clarke
Brian Dutton and Walsall manager Darrell Clarke

On Monday morning we awoke to rumours of an impending departure, with manager Darrell Clarke being linked with a move to a whole host of clubs, including his former side Bristol Rovers, along with Northampton Town and Bradford City.

Fast-forward to 4.00pm that afternoon and we received confirmation that Clarke had made clear his desire to leave the club, in favour of a move to near-rivals Port Vale — a side which sat 19th in League Two ahead of this weekend's round of games.

Whilst in recent years a manager engineering a move to a rival club would have resulted in the faithful immediately taking to the streets of social media to both lambaste their club and seek some straight answers as to how such a move could ever have been agreed to, Darrell's departure was nothing like that.

Our former manager's move to Vale Park was greeted with indifference bordering upon relief as a relationship, which had already started to sour, came to an end, giving the club an opportunity to reset and take a look at other options, although the net wasn't cast very far.

Listening to Clarke's first Vale press conference, he gave various reasons for his departure; including the club's small budget, the recent Deadline Day departures, and his desire to be successful — something he insisted he 'got out of bed to do'.

Whilst our budget has been a long-term concern, and Deadline Day departures will always leave a bad taste, chairman Leigh Pomlett not only has a club to keep afloat but a small community of people to support and as such would be wrong to ignore the club's weak financial state, especially after recently making a few non-football employees redundant in order to balance the books.

Hopefully, as restrictions will soon begin to ease, fans will be able to return to football and add some much-needed cash to the coffers. Whilst it's clear there will be no immediate return to normality, and club budgets are likely to reflect the recent issues for some time to come, any small step towards stability will be a welcome one.

Looking to matters on the pitch, and the man chosen to take the reins is Darrell's former assistant Brian Dutton. A man who not only knows the club's ethos but would appear to be a safe pair of hands both capable of retaining a semblance of normality for the squad whilst offering some different options in terms of tactics and style of play.

Clearly, as the club opted to at least temporarily appoint someone from within, we're not set for a whole host of changes and shouldn't expect to see major progress over the coming weeks and months, but, with the clear backing of the chairman, Brian has been handed a golden opportunity to make himself the only viable candidate.

With our new manager being somewhat thrown in at the deep end, on Tuesday evening — just twenty-four hours after being tasked with taking charge — he led his side into a clash with Michael Duff's title-chasing Cheltenham Town. A meeting which started in some style, but ended in all-too-familiar defeat.

Opening the scoring via Caolan Lavery with just three minutes on the clock, the Saddlers looked to be heading in a rather promising direction, but sadly, that wasn't meant to be as yet another defensive error saw the visitors level the scores before going on to take the lead as our latest spell of positive form came to an end.

Though a defeat to a title-chasing opponent was far from the biggest surprise, our continued ability to shoot ourselves in the foot in the form of unforced errors is frustrating and simply has to be addressed if we are to make any positive strides, either over the final few months of the season or the following campaign.

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