Walsall will head into tomorrow’s fixture with Cheltenham town under the leadership of Brian Dutton who has now been appointed head coach.
The news has not had the hugest of reactions from the Saddlers faithful all things considered. There had been a small but vocal Clarke out contingent who clearly have had enough of ”Drawsall” under Clarke this season; whilst simultaneously the lack of progression up the table in the last few weeks has left even his biggest supporters without too much to complain about.
With just over half the season still remaining, my personal view was that there was still plenty of time for the management at Walsall to ”turn things around” this season. I use quote marks as I genuinely believe despite the incredibly frustrating nature of the Saddlers performances over 26 games, there was something trying to develop under the surface:
Just 6 defeats so far this season, joint second best in the league- only Forest Green Rovers who sit in second having lost more games (5). Yet inexplicably, this somehow is paired with the fact we haven’t kept a clean sheet in what feels like an eternity. Unfortunately the tag of the ”hard to beat” Walsall also comes with a tag of ”Hard to lose to”. Of 20 games played this season that were not defeats a staggering 12 (60%) have been draws.
This is where I think the apathy from fans towards Clarke has seeped in. A club which we have been told for a number of decades now is clamouring to be an established Championship side, is struggling (as so many do) to climb back to wear they have to be in order to make that even the faintest of possibilities. League One which was our home for so long, is not what fans ”dare to dream” of – finances and patience are of short supply at Walsall FC and more years floating around League Two can’t be tolerated.
Leigh Pomlett has been open and honest with the fans around the financial difficulties that led to the sale of Elijiah and Zak, and once fans get back into the stadiums the increased revenues of being in League One over League Two will perhaps be more valuable than ever. I am convinced there must have been some dispute around these sales that have lead to Clarke walking away, he seemed adamant he wanted to retain the main striker at least.
All in all, I am a little disappointed to see Clarke go. Not because of the performances that the team managed to muster under his leadership but because I can’t help but feel he did possess those skills to develop a project and potentially have long term value to the club. Whilst some of the players have not improved under him, many have, in fact some of our best performers over the last few months seem to have come on massively since joining his team. With that not converting into regular full team performances and certainly not into anything that looked like consistency, perhaps this is the change we needed, even if not the one I wanted.
Goodbye to Darrell, I have no ill will towards him, he has left us for a team who he generated his best win for us under just a few weeks ago. 4 changes at half time that saw the saddlers turn around 2 goal deficits on two occasions to win 4-3 in one of the more memorable nights of the season to date.
Just 24 hours for us to prepare for our next game against Cheltenham. COYR.