Walsall manager Jon Whitney was dismissed last night with the struggling Saddlers 14th in League One, just six points clear of the relegation spots.
Whitney stepped up from assistant manager in March 2016 having previously been the club’s physio, firstly as caretaker but then from June as permanent manager. Despite being a hugely popular figure at the Bescot, he hasn’t been able to convert that into results.
The 2-0 defeat at Shrewsbury this weekend was their 15th defeat of the season, which means they still have a slim chance of relegation to League Two. The loss was their fourth in five games, one of those a humiliating 3-0 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Rochdale.
Whitney had a solid career as a player in the lower leagues, turning out for Huddersfield before playing the bulk of his career at Lincoln City. He was promoted to the third tier with them in 1998 and later joined Hull City. He moved into physiotherapy upon retirement and first joined Walsall in 2003.
Coach Ian Sharps will now take temporary charge of the side, with former England assistant manager John Ward, the club’s current professional development coach.
Walsall fans took to Twitter apparently bearing no real malice for Whitney, but widely welcoming the decision. Some were calling for former Walsall player and current Wrexham manager Dean Keates to be appointed.
Think it’s only fair to say @physiomentor thank you for the years you gave to the club. Change was needed at management level but still you did an awful lot for this club over the years.
— Chris (@Chriss5471) March 12, 2018
Nobody disputes this and once the dust has settled a lot of fans will be grateful for his valuable years service at the saddlers!!
— Garry (@paragaz) March 12, 2018
@3Stripe_ thoughts? Any real decent managers around to make a change this late in the season?
— RyanJ84 (@pgpfc0406) March 12, 2018
Not many mate. Personally I’d do what we have never done before, attract an up and coming lower league manager already contracted to another club. If it means paying some compensation, so be it.
— 3Stripe (@3Stripe_) March 12, 2018
Questions still need to be asked though. (a) Who thought it was a good idea to appoint a total rookie to a complete rebuilding job, and (b) what took them so long to bin him when it became clear he wasn't up to the job?
— Simon Mills (@The_Smills) March 12, 2018
— Lewis Birkett (@lewis_birkett) March 12, 2018
It’s actually happened!! I thought we were actually stuck with him!! ????
— Jon Spiers (@Jonspiers85) March 12, 2018
Although I agree that the right decision has been made, I don't for 1 second doubt Jons commitment to the saddlers. Thank you for 15 years dedication and best of luck for the future
— Mike Stampe (@MikeStampe) March 12, 2018
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