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AN INDEPENDENT LOOK AT WALSALL FOOTBALL CLUB

A New Man at the Helm: Room For Optimism?

It's the dawn of a new era at Banks's Stadium as a new man takes charge.
Matt Taylor takes charge of the Saddlers.
Just under two weeks after his appointment was confirmed, Walsall's new head coach Matthew Taylor has officially taken charge of first-team affairs, and the list of issues our new gaffer needs to overcome is already quite sizeable.

39-year-old Taylor made over 650 league appearances during a playing career which saw him turn out for Luton Town, Portsmouth, Bolton Wanderers, West Ham United, Burnley, Northampton Town, and Swindon Town.

Among the plethora of problems facing the former Tottenham Hotspur coach is a lack of depth as just a handful of players remain under contract following a dismal campaign which saw the team finish 19th in the fourth tier - their worst in over a century.

Although there will be no shortage of free agents seeking employment, as previously free-spending clubs can no longer afford to hoard vast amounts of players whilst sticking two fingers up to their FFP-obeying rivals, both officials and fans must be realistic in their approach and expectation.

Following a raft of post-season departures, new recruits are needed across the board and, as club finances continue to feel the squeeze following more than a season without fans at the Banks's, the club is likely to take a targeted approach to the summer transfer window with Miguel Llera's youth team providing options beyond the sixteen-or-so first-team regulars.

With a new manager, assistant, technical director, and vastly reshaped squad all needing to find their feet, we're unlikely to see the team suddenly capable of battling towards the top of the table, in fact, we're in the early stages of yet another new dawn in WS1 and may well be in for another season of struggle, although hopefully not quite so close to the drop zone this time around.

There is no doubt that Saddlers fans are in for a busy few weeks and months, and our faith will likely be tested many more times before the green shoots begin to flower, but we believe there are plenty of reasons for optimism.

The board acted swiftly following last season's failure and appears to have a clear vision as to the future direction of the team, something which, if successful, should once again see the team looking to compete at the top rather than the bottom of the table.

This, coupled with the welcome progression of academy graduates Tom Leak, Alfie Bates, and Sam Perry, as well as the reliability of Jack Rose and Liam Kinsella and the game-changing prowess of Rory Holden the new gaffer has inherited a good foundation to build upon.

Obviously, there is much more to a house than just the foundation upon which it sits, but the club has a long history of nurturing talent, and, if added to successfully, should be able to make something from the upcoming campaign.

Putting our rose-tinted spectacles back in their case, it's very early days and our new leader has barely had time to leave an imprint on his office chair, let alone make decisions on who he would like to add to his squad, but we're encouraged by what we've seen so far and hope the club can right at least some wrongs which have occurred over the last few years.

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