Sad weekend for former Portsmouth star

Last updated : 11 May 2004 By Alex Dale
Last summer, Paul Merson joined the First Division minnows last year amid a blaze of glory, and early doors it all seemed to be going swimmingly after Walsall crushed West Brom 4-1 (just goes to show nothing is settled on the first day, huh?) and incurred Portsmouth fans' wrath by suggesting Walsall played better football than the Fratton Park side.

Come May, however, and Walsall found themselves in the drop zone, with Paul Merson the caretaker manager following the sacking of Colin Lee. Were Walsall doomed? They had on-loan Portsmouth striker Lee Bradbury up front going into their final game, so the omens were not good. But after a brave performance which saw them reclaim the lead in injury time after Rotherham equalised via a dodgy penalty, it was heartbreak as Gillingham's draw at Stoke meant that the midlanders were just two goals short of survival and went down on goal difference with 51 points.

Merson remained upbeat afterwards saying: talks about his future today with the Walsall board - said: "I would give my right arm to be offered the manager's job full-time. I know who I will make my number two if I get the job, and I have told the boys, who could not have given more for the cause today, that I cannot see anybody in the Second Division living with us next season."

For helping to get Portsmouth to the dance in the first place, Fratton Faithful wish him and Walsall the best of luck.