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Bescot Banter: Michael Flynn restoring Walsall pride

The last few months have given us the best and the worst of the current crop, with a string of defeats being followed by a welcome though unexpected return to form, and by all accounts, the rollercoaster that is Walsall FC is showing few signs of slowing down.


After enduring a seven-game losing streak, which resulted in the departure of Head Coach Matt Taylor, Saddlers fans have been rewarded for their patience as the Reds have gone on to enter a string of promising performances, along with one unwelcome reminder of just how fragile their team can be.

Taking an impressive ten points from a possible fifteen, Michael Flynn's side have not only been able to slightly improve their advantage over the relegation zone, but have also moved to within just a few wins of the relative safety of mid-table.

Securing victories over Tranmere Rovers, Forest Green Rovers, and Hartlepool United, along with the midweek draw with Northampton Town, the players have demonstrated a newfound ability to compete with the best League Two has to offer, with three of the four sides residing in the top two when they were tamed by the Saddlers.

Along with the improved odds of securing survival, we're increasingly confident that new boss Michael Flynn will be able to drag this team back towards the upper reaches of the table and allow fans to dream of a future with plenty of upward-bound possibilities, rather than the recent recurring nightmare which could easily include a visit to the National League.

Clearly, there are going to be many more draws and defeats on the road to the end of the season, but most of the recent results - not including the still-painful thrashing at the hands of Swindon Town - have gone a long way to restoring some pride among both players and supporters, and will hopefully see the season team close out the campaign in positive fashion.

With that being said, whether the season does ultimately end with the team having secured safety, or the worst does happen, we have to learn lessons from the last few disastrous campaigns. Far from the nightmare we once believed, the mediocrity of yet another season in League One would be a glorious prospect when compared to what has happened over the last few years.

COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent financial crisis aside, the club has simply failed to get a handle upon any and all of the issues which saw our once middle of the road club become one which seems to spend most of its existence looking over its shoulder awaiting the next failure.

Quick fixes and panic buys have to be replaced with thought-out processes and shrewd signings. Despite recent boardroom mutterings, our budget is one of the lowest in the league and the club has to be better at making the most of it.

Be it by better utilising the youth system, or exploiting one of the many higher-ranked clubs which surround us, there are many, many options which would benefit the club as a whole, and we hope the powers that be will take a look at least one of them.

Back to more pressing matters, and the team will be taking on the likes of Barrow, Oldham Athletic, Harrogate Town, Salford City and Leyton Orient over the next few weeks, and, with all those sides also battling to beat the drop, can ill afford to drop points to one, let alone all five of those sides, so will need to be at their bet-busting best of they are to well and truly put the threat of relegation to bed.

As we and many of our more eloquent peers have mentioned many times over the last few weeks, the real test will come at the end of the season. Will the club back the gaffer and look to take positive steps towards building a team capable of consistently competing at the top of the table, or look to consolidate and await more affluent financial times.

Clearly, there are many issues at play, and we can't begin to understand just how tough things have been for all at the club over recent times, but we're nearing that time of year when decisions need to be made. And, whilst many of the Saddlers faithful will remain loyal to the club regardless of which option it chooses, the likelihood of increasing the fanbase rests on how promising the future appears.

We're happy to welcome the recent return to form, and are encouraged by how much the new gaffer has been able to get out of players who had been struggling to make much of an impact over recent weeks, but remain concerned that we're just going to be back at square one when the next campaign begins.

We'd like to end this week's column by offering our congratulations to Liam Kinsella, who made his milestone two-hundredth first-team appearance last weekend. A club man through and through, Liam continues to give his all for the team and is someone that up-and-coming players should strive to be. Here's to two-hundred more!

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