Bescot Banter: Walsall can enter the summer with a positive mindset

Well, we've reached the final few weeks of the season and thankfully the Saddlers will arrive at their last two games without the prospect of relegation weighing heavy on their minds.

Brian Dutton.
Brian Dutton.

Last weekend the Reds returned to winning ways as they overcame fellow strugglers Scunthorpe United by two-goals to nil as Emmanuel Osadebe and Josh Gordon got on the scoresheet to secure the points needed to confirm their team a place in the fourth tier for at least another year.

Winning three of their last five league games, the Saddlers have plenty to build upon over the next two games and, subject to other sides continuing to falter, could even reach the end of the season with a healthy seventeen point advantage over the drop zone, something which seemed highly unlikely just a few short weeks ago.

Despite their potential gap over the bottom two, and with the majority of player contracts set to expire in the summer, there is no doubt that the team and head coach Brian Dutton, who is also set to be out of contract in the summer, are singing for their supper, and have plenty of work ahead if they are to avoid going hungry.

Looking back at the win over Scunthorpe, and in what was a welcome return to form, the team entered a dominant display, restricting their hosts to just a handful of off-target efforts on the way to another clean sheet and, more importantly, three relegation-avoiding points, a superb way to rebound from the duo of defeats which preceded the trip to Glanford Park.

Shortly after full-time, a clearly frustrated Brian Dutton used his post-match presser to publicly call upon the club to clarify his position, even going as far as suggesting that the win over the Iron could have been his last at the helm.

Whilst it was unlikely that the board would have axed the manager shortly after he'd successfully guided his team to safety, Brian's somewhat surprising statement went a long way to exposing the level of pressure he felt he was under, even after such a strong, albeit rare, display from his team.

Although there was no official confirmation before we got to work on this column, the board appears to be happy to wait until the end of the season before deciding whether to stick or twist, so, despite having little more than pride on the line, the final two games of the season may well play a major role in how they tackle the ongoing and upcoming contract negotiations.

Win both games and the gaffer and his team will have secured victory in five of their seven season-ending outings and should enter the summer break with an air of confidence, backed by the board. Lose them and that'll be four defeats in five leading to the storm clouds gathering once again.

Obviously, there are several differing viewpoints when it comes to the manager of an ultimately faltering team, but it'd be silly to suggest that any potential new recruit would have done a better job than Dutton has since he replaced Darrell Clarke in the Banks's Stadium hot seat.

The club has been in a downward spiral for quite some time and, whether the powers that be ultimately opt to start afresh in the summer or decide to retain Dutton's services for another season or so, there are plenty of issues to overcome before we can even consider ourselves capable of competing near the top of the table.

Hopefully, the next few weeks will see the pressure further eased, and we can enter the summer with a positive mindset, both among the fans and the team.

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