So we end this horrible season away at Carlisle. It’s a fixture I always used to look forward too.
I’ve fond memories of taking the train to Penrith enjoying a few beers before the game with mates, and another time going with the whole family to Kendal for the weekend. That one facilitated my then young son enjoying his first away day.
Ironically, that game was the season (maybe even the last game of it if memory serves) of our 15 matches without a win under Smith. The kids got given a free 2p sweet chew at the turnstile and asked if they could go to Carlisle every week. Simple things.
Things were bad then, but still enjoyable, and nowhere near as bad as they are now.
As a result, I’ll not even be watching remotely this weekend. I can’t be bothered. I have much better things to do. It’s sad, but I’m sick of my unrequited loyalty being the only reason to tune in.
We deserve better. I hope we get it. And soon. I’m dreading the club’s impending season ticket campaign, as for the first time in a long time it won’t be an easy decision.
With one game to go, which I probably won't watch as there is nothing on it, it's fair to say this season has been an absolute shocker for Walsall Football Club. HMS **** The League has well and truly been stuck in the mud this season, a much bigger story than the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal.
We have said it near enough every year for the past five or six years, maybe longer, but the off-season is the most important one we have had for a very long time, and the club simply has to get it bang on this time. We cannot afford any more mistakes or to be taken in by waffle from those who can't live up to their own expectations, never mind the fans.
What we need is a total overhaul. We've started that by appointing Jamie Fullarton as the Director of Football, but now we need a new manager, a new style of football, a new identity that we can keep for years to come, a new vision, and a new outlook across the club as a whole. If we don't get this then I fear the future is going to be bleak.
A quick mention about the Morecambe game. We had 73 per cent possession and didn't threaten at all, and we lost 2-0. You knew it was going to happen, and if there is anything that should have struck the final nail into Brian Dutton's proverbial coffin, this game should be it. Of course, he should be allowed to see the season out now, but he then needs to sail off to wherever the next stop is.
It's been a tough season to be a Saddler, but let's see what the summer brings and hopefully we can achieve something (positively) memorable next season. One thing is for certain, with fans being allowed back into grounds next season there will be no time for failure. People might have got away with it this season but not a chance will it be accepted in the next one.
Well, the season looks set to end with a whimper. The worst league finish confirmed, and poor football on display... pretty much sums up our season doesn't it?
The question still remains about who should lead the charge next season. Dutton has come out fighting, challenging the board and making his view clear, but ultimately he does not have the performances to back it up.
Personally, I think we need to allow Fullarton to pick his man, and lead the recruitment charge this summer. If Fullarton feels Dutton is the man, then so be it. With the turnover of players needed, Fullarton needs to know that the head coach can implement the plan and vision.
I think many fans feel like myself, 'can this season just be over with', it nearly is, and that is something we can take joy in.
Well, if Brian Dutton wants clarity about his future then he should surely have it after the performance on Saturday. People might think that having 70 per cent possession constitutes to doing something right, but Morecambe allowed us to play in areas where we couldn’t hurt them and strangled us in the areas that we could.
If Rory Holden was available then Saturday, and the majority of the season, may well have been different. The fact that our season hinged on the fitness and performance of a player who has never played a full season was a real gamble, and the one that ultimately lead to Darrell Clarke jumping before he was pushed. Although Dutton is a rookie manager, he has had ample time to find a solution to the lack of creativity and he’s failed. The only time that performances have picked up is when Holden was available. It’s something that needs to be addressed in the summer as a priority
Equally alarming is how shaky the defence looks without Mat Sadler at the heart of it. Dan Scarr slotted back in to the side at the weekend and looked poor, gifting away both goals. James Clarke has had a lot of stick this season but he’s really had to coach Scarr through games. With virtually all of our central defenders out of contract, it’ll certainly be interesting to see who, if any of them stay.
Plenty of possession with no real attacking potency and the opposition taking their chances to hand us defeat, our season summed up in one game. Writing these pieces this season has been very much a case of trying to find different words to say the same thing on the whole and it has all been rather disappointing.
It really will be hard to take anything from Saturday or our last game of the season as you can see the players have just gone into cruise control mode after the exhausting relegation battle they faced. A battle they really should never have been in. The problem is next season is looking like an unknown quantity and it really is hard to decide who to try and keep and who to offload which doesn’t give me much confidence about our ability to plan for a decent promotion push next season.
On the whole I hope we have a solid start to next season with some if not all fans in the stadium and that we look an improved outfit on this year. It’s the positive end to a 12-18 month period I think we all need and deserve so let’s hope we use the summer wisely and build a good squad whilst hopefully this virus finally shrinks into the background and we can go back to enjoying our football!