THE FOOTBALL LAB | Why Whitney is Right for Walsall×
Bescot Banter logo
READ OUR LATEST KICK-OFF COLUMN IN SATURDAY'S EXPRESS & STAR
 
Got Something to Say About the Saddlers? Join Our Team
Half-Season Tickets Adults Can See the Saddlers For Just £181!
THE FOOTBALL LAB | Why Whitney is Right for Walsall
 
THE FOOTBALL LAB | Why Whitney is Right for Walsall
THE FOOTBALL LAB | Why Whitney is Right for Walsall
TOP STORYCoventry City Enter the Race to Sign Amadou Bakayoko

THE FOOTBALL LAB | Why Whitney is Right for Walsall

12:51 pm Monday, 7 March 2016
Following Sunday afternoon's departure of Walsall Head Coach Sean O'Driscoll, Gabriel Sutton of the Football Lab joins us to take a look at fan's favourite Jon Whitney, and discusses his suitability for the vacant managerial position.
Following Sunday afternoon's departure of Walsall Head Coach Sean O'Driscoll, Gabriel Sutton of the Football Lab joins us to take a look at fan's favourite Jon Whitney, and discusses his suitability for the vacant managerial position.

Stability. In essence, that is what enabled a League One club with modest resources to go from battling relegation in January 2011, to striving for promotion five years later. There were peaks and troughs in that time, but the club refused to be swayed by the bad runs and stuck, admirably, to its long-term plan.

And what was this plan? Firstly, a consistent style of football. Dean Smith implemented zippy, short passing play within a tight framework of positional discipline. Secondly, the development young, unproven players. Smith and his coaching staff did this superbly and a lot of the players benefited from working with the same coaches year on year. Thirdly, they wanted to sustain a once aging supporter base. The club offered incentives for children to come to games in a bid to lure the next generation of fans. Over the years, it became increasingly evident that the club was self-sustained, on and off the field, and that the right structure was in place.

These last three months have been unusually destabilizing for Walsall. Smith, a man partially responsible for the long-term progress the club has made, walked out in controversial circumstances. On the one hand, he unquestionably left the club in a stronger position than when he found it, and for that he retains the respect of some Saddlers fans.

Equally, however, he repaid the club for almost unparalelled loyalty by leaving at the crucial point. Walsall needed him more than ever, at a time when contract negotiations with key players were reaching the pinnacle and the club was in a promotion race. Some, understandably in the context of an emotional game, feel betrayed by Smith.

His departure created internal indecision, among fans and players, nobody quite knew what their stance was. There was a group of fans who hated Smith and wanted to show vitriol, others wanted to support the current team without devaluing his legacy. It became hard for the fans, and therefore the players, to start afresh. Part of the problem was that Smith's successor, Sean O'Driscoll, lacked the leadership and motivational qualities to stamp his authority, to fill that empty void.

O'Driscoll was sacked after just 16 games in charge. The football appeared to slow down after his arrival and the former Doncaster boss could not stamp out the reportedly toxic atmosphere in the dressing room.

That is why, with O'Driscoll now gone, the next appointment should be about galvanizing the players and fans. It should be about going back to basics, about rediscovering the core values that got Walsall into this position. Jon Whitney is the man to lead the rebuilding process. Whitney has the respect of everybody at the club, having worked at the Bescot for many years.

When one sees how Smith and assistant Richard O'Kelly are struggling at Brentford, it is reasonable to suggest that Whitney helped them a lot over their five years in charge. The 45-year-old's experience, knowledge, passion and man management skills makes him the best contender for the role. Whitney will always love... Walsall - he is the man to get the Saddlers back on the road to the Championship.


LATEST

WALSALL 0 BURTON ALBION 0

About Bescot Banter

Bescot Banter is an independent look at Walsall Football Club


MORE OF THE LATEST HEADLINES
FIND US ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER & INSTAGRAM