Merson takes permanent manager's job at Walsall

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The Independent Online

Paul Merson has been appointed as the permanent player-manager of Walsall. The 36-year-old former England international took over as caretaker after Colin Lee left the club in mid-April. Walsall were relegated to the Second Division on goal difference at the weekend despite beating Rotherham 3-2 at the Bescot Stadium.

Paul Merson has been appointed as the permanent player-manager of Walsall. The 36-year-old former England international took over as caretaker after Colin Lee left the club in mid-April. Walsall were relegated to the Second Division on goal difference at the weekend despite beating Rotherham 3-2 at the Bescot Stadium.

The Saddlers had lost their previous five matches - three with Merson in charge - without scoring a goal, but Walsall's owner Jeff Bonser believes relegation would not have been an issue if Merson had been in charge earlier.

"Had the kind of commitment and positive approach, apparent in the past few games been shown throughout the season, relegation would not have been an issue," he said.

"I have been very impressed with the way the players have responded to his leadership in recent weeks."

Bonser said a coach would be appointed imminently. "Both Paul and myself recognise the need for an experienced coach to work alongside him," he said. He also confirmed that Merson would still be leading on the pitch. "As well as being manager, he sees himself making a major contribution as a player."

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