Given Paul Merson's past addictions to gambling, alcohol and drugs, the 37-year-old was always likely to break the mould as a manager.

The Walsall player-boss has certainly lived up to expectations in that respect and his honesty when dealing with the media is almost unprecedented.

The former Aston Villa player displayed another commendable trait yesterday when he said that despite his intention to remain at Bescot for the next five years, he had no wish to sign a long-term contract at the club.

Merson has been promised a new deal by Walsall chairman and owner Jeff Bonser after keeping the Saddlers in League One.

But, unlike many of his managerial contemporaries, Merson says he will be content to sign a short-term deal so the club will not owe him a lot of compensation if results deteriorate.

Merson said: "I'm happy with what we have agreed and Jeff is happy with it. I hope to be here for the next five years but I don't want to sign for years and take the club to the cleaners.

"If I sign for three or four years and God forbid we are bottom early next season I'll get the sack and the club will owe me a bundle of money. I'm not like that though.

"Jeff has backed me to the hilt by giving me another contract and I want to do the right thing for him and the club." After being relegated from the old Division One last term, Walsall were expected to challenge for promotion this season.

The campaign has not turned out as planned, however, and Merson has been close to the sack on more than one occasion.

Three straight victories have secured Walsall's League One status, though, and Merson has pinpointed his side's upturn in fortunes to the arrival of five new players before the March transfer deadline.

Merson believes the signings of Julian Joachim, Anthony Gerrard, Andy Oakes, David Perpetuini and Craig Pead have had a significant impact and he hopes to keep them all for next season.

He added: "Five good signings have come in and they have made a difference - all five have been outstanding.

"Andy Oakes is contracted to us for another year but unfortunately the other four players' agents are going to tout them around so I'll have to talk to them soon and see what sort of deals they want.

"If I could keep them all here next season we would have an unbelievable chance. We need to start next season well so I want to get my squad sorted sooner rather than later.

"I'll give them all the option to sign and if they don't then I'll look elsewhere. Obviously signing Julian would be a massive boost because he has scored five goals in six games.

"If I can get someone like Julian in it puts bums on seats - you need a big signing every year.

"Julian is on loan from Leeds United and a lot depends on what they want to do with him but he has said he would be very interested."

Merson, whose side visit Hartlepool tomorrow in their penultimate match, also said he is considering pulling the club's reserve team out of the Pontin's League Premier Division because a lot of the matches are so far away.