Walsall name Michael Flynn as new head coach - What can he bring to the role?
Michael Flynn will aim to steer the Saddlers upwards - George Wood/Getty Images

Walsall have appointed Michael Flynn as their new head coach on a deal until 2024.

The former Newport County boss replaced Matt Taylor, who was sacked as Saddlers boss following defeat to Scunthorpe United.

Flynn joins with four-and-a-half years worth of managerial experience behind him whilst at Rodney Parade.

The 41-year-old is now tasked with rifling the Banks' Stadium residents out of the lower third of the EFL League Two table.

  • Details of the deal

Taylor had produced a run of nine games without a win and hadn't picked up a victory since December, 11 2021.

Flynn is now tasked with turning the tide of a truly forgettable season so far for the Saddlers.

Having left Newport in October 2021, the former midfielder has been without a job since his departure from the Exiles.

However, his foray back into management begins with a stay in the Midlands until 2024.

Interim head coach Neil MacDonald has departed the club after overseeing a 1-0 win over Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.

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  • Previous record

His time with Newport is certainly a spell to be admired, with a real transformation of the club from fourth-tier relegation certainties, to play-off contenders.

The former Wigan Athletic, Blackpool and Huddersfield Town player also developed a knack for beating higher tier sides in cup competitions during his time at County.

In both the FA Cup and League Cup respectively, Flynn's Newport knocked out Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Leicester City, Swansea City and Watford who were all placed in either the EFL Championship or the Premier League at the time.

He also boasts a 40.8% win ratio in the league, guiding the Exiles to a play-off final in 2021 where they were controversially defeated by Morecambe at Wembley Stadium.

The Welshman's impressive record at both ends of the League Two table means Saddlers fans can certainly be optimistic about their chances of progressing under him.

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  • How can he improve the Saddlers?

The complete role reversal of the South Wales outfit shows the boss' ability to switch the atmosphere amongst the fans and spur a club as a whole onwards in the right direction.

Although the Saddlers don't quite find themselves in serious danger of dropping out of the 92, they certainly are in need of togetherness and someone to drag them into an upwards trajectory.

With less than a third of the season left to play, Flynn will have to rely on the experience gained during his first season at County in order to extinguish tensions between the club and its supporters.

Typically operating with a fairly direct style of play, there is scope to develop and utilise this, depending on how he sees his personnel.

His initial tactical display at Newport meant they had a pass accuracy of only 56% which was the lowest of any League Two team.

However, as Flynn recognised the need to progress, they completed their play-off campaign with a pass accuracy of 68% - the biggest increase of any team in the football league.

He'll likely encourage Conor Wilkinson to hold the ball up, but in turn, increase the support surrounding him and ensure the striker isn't isolated.

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  • What Flynn said

Speaking to Walsall's club website, the new boss said, "I can’t wait to get going.

It’s a fantastic football club, I remember playing against them many years ago, Paul Merson was in charge so that does go back a while.

“It is a club that wants to go in the right direction and that was key for me.

“I am bringing in togetherness. Every single team that I have been a part of, there has been a real togetherness.

I know Jamie (Fullarton) is really big on that, and again that was one of the principles that I was really impressed with so I can’t speak highly enough of him on that.

“We have a very vocal group of supporters and we want to try and get more feet inside the stand on match days and we can only do that by winning games.

“I am sure that with them behind us and with everyone pulling in the right direction, we will have a good end to the season.”

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