The Football Lab | Is Jon Whitney Due More Respect?×
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The Football Lab | Is Jon Whitney Due More Respect?
 
The Football Lab | Is Jon Whitney Due More Respect?
The Football Lab | Is Jon Whitney Due More Respect?
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The Football Lab | Is Jon Whitney Due More Respect?

1:35 pm Wednesday, 26 April 2017
Following Tuesday evening's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and relegation threatened Port Vale, which saw the Saddlers suffer their fifth defeat in five league games, Gabriel Sutton of 'The Football Lab' joins us to take a look back at the match, and is keen to offer his support for manager Jon Whitney.
Following Tuesday evening's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and relegation threatened Port Vale, which saw the Saddlers suffer their fifth defeat in five league games, Gabriel Sutton of 'The Football Lab' joins us to take a look back at the match, and is keen to offer his support for manager Jon Whitney.

Some of the abuse directed at Walsall manager Jon Whitney at full-time on Tuesday night, following the club’s 1-0 defeat to Port Vale, was a little over the top. While supporters are entitled to want change, a little more respect is due to an honest man who has worked hard under tight constraints.

Dean Smith is widely seen as a man who brought stability, faith in youth and a consistent, patient style of football to the club. However, his time in charge was far from perfect. There were goal droughts, winless runs, accusations of no Plan B or cowardice in not playing two up top. One of the directors admitted in retrospect at a fans’ forum that ‘there had been meetings’ with him during the more challenging spells, yet ultimately the club stood by their man.

They were rewarded with a sustained promotion push last season, even if Smith’s decision to leave for Brentford in December left a sour taste for some. The once dubbed ‘Ginger Mourinho’s last two full seasons in charge brought similar results to this campaign: narrowly missing out on the top half with around 60 points.

Fortune has favoured the Saddlers at times this season and performances can improve. However, the club has replaced much of last season’s play-off squad on the cheap and some of the new players have done well. Jason McCarthy and Erhun Oztumer are among the League One signings of the season, Joe Edwards is full of running while January loanee Eoghan O’Connell looks composed at centre-back.

Walsall are sandwiched in the table by Charlton, MK Dons and Peterborough, who have all invested in proven performers. Walsall do not have that luxury, regardless of whether one cites the board’s lack of short-term ambition or modest attendances as reason. They must show faith in unproven, young players, hence the decision to assess the kids against Port Vale on Tuesday night.

None of them looked out of place in an even game. Kieron Morris and Amadou Bakayoko came close to scoring twice each against a Port Vale side who had their last chance to try and preserve their four-year League One status, winning through a late wonder-strike from Chris Eagles.

Living within their means, Walsall are sustainably run, they stick to a long-term plan and show faith in people through times of adversity. Those qualities should be applauded.

Visit theFootbalLab.co.uk where Gabriel provides regular insight, opinion and in-depth analysis on every club in the top four leagues of English football.


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