League One survival Walsall's only priority
Assistant boss Ian Sharps admitted survival is now Walsall’s only priority after the Dean Keates era began with a 3-0 home defeat to Wigan.
The promotion-chasing Latics scored three goals in nine first-half minutes to condemn the Saddlers to a third straight defeat which leaves them just four points above the League One drop zone.
New boss Keates watched the game from the stands but was involved in selecting the team and addressed players in the dressing room before and after the game.
It was Sharps and development coach John Ward, however, who were in the dugout.
Sharps said: “I think the only priority now is making sure we are in this division next season.
“All season we have been out of the bottom four and we don’t intent to go in there now.
“We have eight big games coming up.
“The gaffer has said in the changing room we need to step forward now. As a team, players and staff, we need to look forward to the next game.
“Hopefully the new manager will give everyone a lift. There is no point sulking.”
Michael Jacobs, Jay Fulton and Chey Dunkley - following an error by goalkeeper Liam Roberts - got the goals as the Saddlers slipped to a fifth defeat in six.
“In the first half-hour we felt in the game. We had a foothold.
“For 15 minutes things went to pot. When you are down where we are, you can’t afford to do it. You have to consolidate after conceding.
“They have hit one from the edge of the box and it has flown in. We have conceded a poor goal from a corner too.
“The second half we did OK. We looked better But we also know they will have dropped it down a gear so we are not kidding ourselves either.
“They are a good team. We have to accept that.
“The lads showed a bit of character. We had a good-go at them at half-time and they stood up to it.
“That is what we need over these last eight games. We need to show a bit of steel.”