Matt Taylor will walk through the doors of the Banks’s Stadium as the new manager on June 1 and faces a huge task.
Supporters have become disillusioned with the club’s fortunes over the last year and they want something to celebrate.
As is the nature of the beast, Taylor will come under pressure to deliver from the outset.
Chairman Leigh Pomlett, rightly so, wants to hit the ground running and see smiling faces at the Banks’s Stadium again. And if fans do return in full, as is hoped, the players will not get away with sub-par performances without the Saddlers faithful letting them know.
In many ways that was key to the season we’ve just endured. It was all too easy for the players to get away with poor displays without the fans making their feelings known.
It works the other way, too. Supporters drive teams forward and add a special atmosphere, something Walsall need to grasp and harness next season.
In terms of Taylor’s appointment, it fits the bill for what Walsall are trying to build.
Pomlett wanted to build around Brian Dutton but, with results too poor for too long, his hand was forced.
The chairman wants to build experience around an inexperienced, but hungry, coach and get the best of both worlds.
And with this appointment they are seemingly ticking those boxes.
Taylor arrives with experience of managing one professional game – as interim boss at Swindon Town in 2018 – and two years of youth experience as under-18 coach at Tottenham Hotspur.
He is in his infancy in terms of coaching, but has the relevant qualifications and is keen to forge a career in that field.
Of course, he also had an excellent playing career and played for several sides including Portsmouth, Bolton and West Ham. He is well known in the game, will have contacts and can be an inspirational figure for some of Walsall’s youngest players as someone who featured at the highest level.
The loan market has and always will be an important tool for the club and, with Taylor’s connections, many expect he will bring in some quality talent from higher leagues.
Perhaps even more important than that, however, is the appointment of his assistant Neil McDonald.
The 55-year-old has coached at Bolton, West Ham and Blackburn and also managed Carlisle and Blackpool.
His extensive experience will be invaluable to developing Taylor and giving him the helping hand he needs. Technical director Jamie Fullarton also has experience and adds to the melting pot Walsall have created. An identity needs to be running through the club from start to finish and recruitment this summer – which will be a huge job – needs to reflect that.
This is the model Walsall wanted and they have gone out and got it. Now it needs to work for the club’s sake and the fans. Taylor deserves time to make it work, but these supporters will only tolerate it for so long.