Bescot Banter: Frustration the overriding emotion

It's fair to say this current crop of Saddlers have become one of the most frustrating groups in recent memory.

Walsall manager Brian Dutton.
Walsall manager Brian Dutton.

Entering far too many drab and dreary displays over the course of the campaign, we're on track to 'better' the club's lowest ever fourth tier finish - sixteenth in 1991 - as the team put their recent unbeaten run firmly behind them, suffering a duo of defeats over the last seven days.

First up was an away day meeting with fellow strugglers Colchester United, a side which had won just one of their twenty-five games heading into their clash with the Saddlers, a truly terrible record which was swiftly ended courtesy of the men in yellow.

Taking the lead via captain James Clarke's second goal in three games, the Saddlers went on to concede two goals before half-time as their promising spell of form - Brian Dutton had been able to guide his side through six games without defeat - came to an abrupt end at the Colchester Community Stadium.

With the busy schedule continuing, we then moved on to a midweek meeting with Salford City and another outing where the team simply failed to get going. Suffering a two-goal defeat and providing fans with a rather painful reminder of many of the performances which preceded their recent unbeaten spell, the Saddlers struggled to threaten the Ammies' backline during an evening to forget.

Although safety in the fourth tier has almost certainly been secured for at least another season - bottom sides Southend United and Grimsby Town doing us a huge favour in also slipping to defeat during midweek - we're currently struggling to see this as anything other than delaying the inevitable.

This season simply has to serve as a turning point. Clearly, club finances have taken an almost immeasurable hit and the impact of Covid-19 will be long-lasting, but the slump began well before lockdown, and can't be allowed to continue.

Whilst the club has already started to look towards the future - the recent arrival of Technical Director Jamie Fullarton being the first of hopefully many positive steps - there is still so much to do before the team will be in any sort of position to challenge for a place near the top of the table.

Despite Brian Dutton and several Saddlers managers before him claiming the team is capable of reaching the top of the mountain, the truth is we've yet to reach base camp, and, with the current campaign fresh in our minds, we've got a long arduous trek ahead.

A quick look at this season's results show the Saddlers have won just ten of their forty-three pre-Scunthorpe matches, with four of those victories coming during a four-game spell in December, and, without major change in the summer it's difficult to see the situation being much different in 2021/22.

Clearly, there will be plenty of activity over the coming weeks and months, many of the current crop are due to be out of contract in the summer and our new Technical Director has an ever-increasing list of duties which he's only in the early stages of tackling, but make no mistake these are troubling times.

Hopefully, the gaffer, who is also facing an uncertain future, and his team, will be able to reach the end of the campaign with a few promising performances, but we won't hold out much hope.

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