If results are to be the yardstick, Roland Nilsson's appointment as manager of Coventry City should be subject to no further delay after the Swede last night achieved his sixth victory in eight matches since filling the gap left by Gordon Strachan's departure.
A team that appeared to be suffering a collective loss of will so long as Strachan remained in charge now look full value for the early-season confidence of the bookmakers that they would return to the Premiership at the first attempt.
A first-half goal by David Thompson proved enough to suppress a Walsall team who mounted a lively second-half comeback and appears to have given Nilsson a still stronger hand when negotiations with his chairman, Bryan Richardson, recommence this week. The Swede said there were a number of issues to be resolved, in particular his own decision over whether to finally call time on his playing career. However, Nilsson said: "I'm confident everything can be finalised in the next few days."
Last night's result lifts Coventry to fifth place in the First Division table. Though they have some ground to make up on the leaders, they played in a measured style which identifies them as a team of Premiership pedigree, in contrast to their opponents, who at times still chased and harried like the Second Division team they were last season.
None the less, Nilsson's side won less comfortably than they should have, squandering a number of chances to build on Thompson's fine 14th-minute strike, a 30-yard screamer into the roof of the Walsall net after the home defence had let him wind up a fierce right-foot shot.
With Thompson prompting most of their penetrative moves, Coventry ought to have scored twice more through Jairo Martinez, who rounded the goalkeeper only to hit a post in the first half and missed another easy chance early in the second.
After Lee Hughes had missed a further opening, Walsall might twice have drawn level through Tony Barras, defied by a brilliant save by Magnus Hedman, and then Jorge Leitão, but their finishing did not match the build-up.
Goal: Thompson (14) 0-1.
Walsall (3-5-2): Walker; Brightwell, Chettle, Barras; Gadsby (Matias, 73), Herevelto (Simpson, 52), Bennett, Wrack, Aranalde; Byfield, Leitão (Angel, 65). Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Roper.
Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Shaw, Konjic, Breen, Hall; Delorge (Edworthy, 68), Carsley, Chippo, Thompson; Hughes, Martinez (Bothroyd, 59). Substitutes not used: Quinn, Montgomery (gk), Guerrero.
Referee: G Laws (Whitley Bay).
Bookings: Walsall: Aranalde. Coventry: Carsley.
Man of the match: Thompson.
Attendance: 7,515.Reuse content