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Firstly, let’s get a few things straight. I have the utmost respect for Dean Smith for the way he constantly evolves an unfashionable Walsall side into an attractive, free-flowing football outfit. Even the loss of Will Grigg, Fabien Brandy and Co doesn’t appear to have changed much within the Saddlers’ camp. His side could, and possibly should, have taken a point, maybe more, if their finishing had been more clinical against Brentford. For the way his side has defied the odds repeatedly, picking up good wins against many of the more fancied teams, he deserves huge credit.

But his churlish attitude over the Grigg transfer saga has, I feel, slightly sullied the excellent work he is doing in the shadow of the M6. I worked for many years on the Birmingham Mail and got to know the football hacks extremely well – from the anchorman who knows the lot about Walsall to the erudite writer whose opinion I value highly when he’s not covering cricket for the paper. When the news first broke of Grigg’s possible departure I spoke to the sports desk who deal with the copy from those two guys and asked their honest views.

Variously the responses were “had a really quiet season two seasons back doing bits and pieces around the edge of the box, but then got on the goal trail… a lot of them were pens mind” and “We’re not quite sure whether the goals last term were a bit of a flash in the pan”. One admitted “I’m sure he could do a job for you… he’s an intelligent footballer who links things up well.” None had a bad word to say about Grigg, all citing him as a good lad with an attitude to match, but neither did they wax lyrical.

But as the weeks have elapsed without a settlement on his fee amid nonsensical talk of a £1m tag, its seems Dean Smith has been swept up in the hysteria. Even a fifth of that figure is pie in the sky in this day and age when League One clubs get limited income from the leagues above, and when no Championship outfits actually weighed in with a concrete offer for the player. During his pitchside press conference after Saturday’s game Smith mentioned Brentford’s financial situation no fewer than three times, but when quizzed on the Grigg reunion was keen to play things down.

His initial reaction to Grigg’s decision to leave was one of incredulity, questioning his ambition and the role in the deal of the player’s agent. I’d be quite insulted were I Will Grigg. The switch, branded “sideways” by Smith, clearly still smarts with the Saddlers’ boss, who is now clearly looking to influence the decision of the tribunal with tales of ‘poor little Walsall’ against ‘moneybags Brentford’ at every opportunity.

Frankly it left a rather nasty taste in the mouth after a game when he would have been far better saluting his side’s excellent performance. When he began mentioning the Griffin Park ball boys being on a “second-half go slow” I decided I had enough notes.

Disappointing really, because he is such a good manager and Walsall such a good side that this whole affair really is pretty tawdry and makes Walsall look a smaller club than they actually are… football-wise at least.

Jim Levack