Paul Downing: Walsall trying to move on after exit of Dean Smith

Paul Downing
Former West Brom trainee Paul Downing joined Walsall on a free transfer in August 2012

Walsall defender Paul Downing is sorry to see Dean Smith leave as manager but is adamant that the League One club are fully focused on moving on.

Downing was among the scorers in Tuesday's 3-1 win at Shrewsbury in the first game since Smith left to take charge of Championship side Brentford.

"Dean did an excellent job and it is sad to see him go," 24-year-old centre-half Downing told BBC WM.

"The club moves forward though and the aim is still promotion."

Smith, who took Walsall to their first-ever Wembley final last season and spent nearly five years at the helm at the Banks's Stadium, left the club fourth in League One.

Ward, Whitney and Cutler - the men left in charge
John Ward (64): Vast managerial experience under Graham Taylor at Watford and Aston Villa, then with York City, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers (twice), Wolves (as number two), Cheltenham, Carlisle and Colchester.
Jon Whitney (44): The former Huddersfield Town defender was Dean Smith's assistant for a time and now combines coaching with his long-standing role as Walsall physiotherapist.
Neil Cutler (39): The former Aston Villa, Stoke, Rotherham and Chester keeper replaced Mick Kearns as goalkeeping coach in June 2013.

The Saddlers' victory over Shrewsbury took them to within a point of the automatic promotion places. And Downing says that the three men in temporary charge - John Ward, Jon Whitney and Neil Cutler - are well placed to keep the continuity going.

"They know what we're about," he said. "They've been in and around it from the start of the season. Things have kept pretty much the same. They've tweaked a couple of things. You always get that with a new face.

"We've got belief this season, we don't want to get too carried away but we've been consistent this year and we want to carry that on."

Dean Smith (centre)
Smith (centre) steered Walsall to the Football League Trophy final in 2014-15

Top Stories