Walsall have finally parted company with Jon Whitney. Better late than never as they say. There have been a few opportunities throughout this season that I think were an ‘ideal time’ to send Jon on his way and those were missed. But after the PR nightmare of last week and a defeat to Salop on Saturday, the ever-mounting pressure told for the once loved physio who was fired late yesterday afternoon.
When I first heard the news I didn’t instantly jump for joy. Don’t get me wrong, I was Whitney out at this point and 100% think it was the right thing to do, yet my initial feeling was almost a combination of sadness and relief. This club has lost its way in the last two seasons. On reflection, it is a sorry state of affairs that it has had to come to infighting amongst fans, boycotts and genuine animosity both home and away that lead to a long-serving member of the club becoming the catalyst for so much anger and hatred. Whilst much of the criticism of Jon was deserved, the board need to take a long, hard look at themselves, the state of the club, and the feeling of the fans before making their next move.
Jon will no doubt be heartbroken. No one, even at the worst of times during the last few weeks have questioned your desire, willingness and fight to turn things around, but it just hasn’t found its way onto the playing surface. After the 2nd fan focus meeting I was seduced by the way you spoke and the love that you clearly had towards this club, but as I remember tweeting at the time, it’s all just empty words till something changes…nothing did.
The standard of football has been woeful. The passion, desire, and commitment you so often spoke about you could not muster in your playing staff. That promotion chasing season when Dean departed, I remember wanting you to be the man who led this football team. Despite the lack of experience I for some reason believed in the dreamy vision that you would be the man to send this club in the right direction, unfortunately, it turned into something of a nightmare.
There has been talk in the press about the Walsall job not being an attractive one. I couldn’t disagree more. This news I feel with breathe some new life into the club. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see attendance increase until the end of the season, and maybe this early bird offer will gain even more momentum. It seems we have made a decision nice and early (in regards to next season): the next manager has time to rework this squad, develop a style (pass it to our own team please) and bring in the talent to fit a new system.
Despite this squad being admittedly threadbare, I think they are better footballers than they have displayed under the management of Jon Whitney. At times this season they have been organised, disciplined and shown that they have more to their game than ‘twat it up the pitch or hope Oztumer can do something’ – we will not likely be able to rely on that next season regardless. As someone mentioned on twitter earlier I feel those better performances were more in spite of Whitney than because of him. A fresh set of eyes on our playing staff could do the world of good, but as always in this league, it is likely the team will look completely different come August.
With over a week to go until our next fixture, the current players have plenty of time get themselves into gear. A shocking performance against Shrewsbury at the weekend was the final straw for Whitney but I feel the players need to shoulder some of that responsibility too. Whoever is coaching you, on a personal level you should be able to get yourself up and ready for a derby game – not a single one of them looked like they cared. I’d seen a lot of praise for Dobson following the result but for me, he was just the best of a very bad bunch, Joe Edwards was sorely missed and I think his presence on the pitch would have given us a bit more fight than we showed.
Wigan next. Ironically that is the exact type of game Whitney would have won in order to keep his job a few weeks ago, we’ll probably lose 5-0 now… COYR!
Let the next chapter begin.