Blog: Blood on Their Hands Blog: Blood on Their Hands

Blog: Blood on Their Hands

As we reach the final couple of games of the season, we take a look at the situation Walsall FC currently finds itself in and consider who exactly is to blame?
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There is no doubt that the 2018/19 campaign has been an unmitigated disaster both on and off the pitch for Walsall Football Club. An ultimately misleading strong start to the season, which saw the Saddlers go undefeated during the opening seven games, was soon replaced by a far more familiar pattern of (rare) wins, draws, and defeats as the Reds failed to find form as the season crashed and burned.

Whilst the Saddlers headed into this weekend's clash with Peterborough United with a chance of extending their campaign by another seven days - a win potentially cutting the gap to safety - thanks to our poor goal difference and seeming inability to prevent the other side from scoring, there is very little prospect of the club actually remaining in League One for yet another season.

And, whether relegation is finally confirmed this weekend or we are by some miracle able to delay the inevitable for next Saturday's trip to Shrewsbury's Montgomery Waters Meadow, there is very little doubt that things have to change, both among the squad and in the boardroom.

Since the departure of former manager Dean Smith to Brentford in November 2015, the club has made wrong turn after wrong turn. Poor managerial appointments, panic foreign and domestic acquisitions, and much in between have left the club with a string of extra contract payments, an extremely unhappy fanbase, and an impending season in League Two.

Obviously, hindsight is a wonderful thing and it's very easy for onlookers to pinpoint mistakes after the fact, it is clear that whilst club representatives often talk about future planning, and frequently mention a desire to ultimately get the club into the Championship, there doesn't seem to be enough planning for the present.

The signing of players such as the high-scoring Andy Cook, and the highly-rated wingers Zeli Ismail and Josh Ginnelly appeared to show that the club was both backing their recently appointed boss and looking to build a squad to compete with some of the better-stocked sides in the league.

However, the January departure of Ginnelly, the winger joining Preston for an undisclosed fee, gave us a glimpse of the old Walsall FC. The Walsall FC which, although under pressure, allowed Scott Dann to depart with no time to secure a replacement. The Walsall FC which will apparently let ambition fall by the wayside if the finances are right.

Obviously, the club should always strive to balance the books, and the board has to be commended for keeping the club in the black for so many years. However, a desire to remain within our self-set financial parameters shouldn't override the desire to build a team. Especially when you consider how much money goes straight into the Chairman's coffers at the end of the financial year.

Of course, it's not all down to the board, especially when you consider that they have several issues to juggle, especially during fairly tough financial times, and, as mentioned earlier, have managed to keep the club on an even keel when many others continue to have their finances questioned by the powers that be.

Be it a lack desire, or a simple lack of ability, there is no doubt that the majority of the current squad also have blood on their hands, and have to take some of the responsibility for what has unfolded since the Saddlers' unbeaten spell was brought to an end by Doncaster Rovers in September.

Interim boss Martin O'Connor said it best when he admitted; "It's sad that this is the situation Walsall Football Club finds itself in. I’ve said to the boys they have to be proud to wear any shirt, wherever they go next season they are going to have to put in bigger performances and better performances."

Hopefully, we can bring the season to an end with at least some pride. Whether the gaffer is forced to select some of the less-experienced players in a bid to show just how important it is to show desire, or some of the likely-to-be departing players end their Saddlers stays in style, it's sure to be another interesting week at Banks's Stadium.
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