There are times in football when its obvious a manager is perfect for a team- Alex Ferguson at Man Utd, Dario Gradi at Crewe and Ray Graydon at Walsall.
Graydon arrived at the Bescot in 1998 after big Dane Jan Sorensen left the club and to say he had a difficult task ahead was an understatement.
Not only did he have very little money to play with, he was also very aware that we were favourites to be relegated from the Second Division- a league that at the time had big clubs such as Man City and Fulham spending millions.
It did then seem like a miracle when half way through the season we were not only in the top half but in the top 6. Graydon had managed to get a belief into a squad that got better and better by the game.
And any signings Graydon did make boosted the squad instead of spliting it. Most notably a winger called Darren Wrack was brought in and alongside other Bescot favourites such as Jimmy Walker and Andy Rammell the Saddlers finished the season second behind Fulham.
Graydon had somehow turned a relegation favourite into a promotion-winning side and it looked easy.
Although Graydon couldn't keep us in the First Division, he was of course still in charge when we went to Cardiff and were promoted once more.
A man loved by players and fans alike, his sacking in 2002 wasn't the most popular decision Jeff Bonser ever made!
Let us know your memories of Ray Graydon on our forum.
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