Whitney Heading From Hero to Zero With Saddlers Fans

Walsall are in the bottom four and facing a relegation battle.

Walsall are in the bottom four and facing a relegation battle.

Coral odds compiler Nick Goff follows Black Country football closer than most bookmakers – he is Wolverhampton fan – and he has told the thousands of football punters who follow him on Twitter that Walsall is doomed in English League One.

You may recall that one tipped Walsall to finish the season above its regional rival, Coventry, on the English League One ladder. That bet is only looking good because Coventry is bottom of English League One and the division’s solitary side yet to register a win. Walsall is just three rungs and four points ahead of Coventry but the Saddlers are sinking like stones under their inexperienced manager, Jon Whitney.

Whitney, who kicked off his association with Walsall as its physiotherapist, succeeded Sean O’Driscoll as the Saddlers boss in March. Whitney succeeded in putting Walsall back on an even keel after O’Driscoll did his best to destroy Dean Smith’s good work but the Saddlers imploded in the English League One play-offs, losing 1-6 on aggregate to a Barnsley team that had finished the 46 rounds 10 points behind them. Barnsley outthought Walsall and the failure of the Saddlers to secure promotion to the English Championship resulted in several of their star players, including Tom Bradshaw, Rico Henry and Romaine Sawyers, leaving for greener pastures.

Walsall broke its transfer record during the close season but Cyprus striker Andreas Makris has yet to score for the Saddlers and, according to Banks’s Stadium regulars, he is a waste of money. And three of Walsall’s regular back four are on loan to the Saddlers until January so heaven knows what will happen early next year – they may have to start all over again when it comes to creating a defensive unit.

When Walsall appointed Whitney as its permanent manager it announced that he had signed a three-year contract. Walsall is the type of club that cannot afford to make big payouts so it may be truly catastrophic for the Saddlers to fire Whitney. Provided that Walsall has a chance of staying up then one cannot see the Saddlers partying with a lot of money to part company with Whitney even though most of their supporters are baying for his blood following 10 rounds.

Walsall fans and the aforementioned Goff can see the writing on the wall. Tuesday’s 1-4 English League One home loss to Scunthorpe was the latest disastrous Walsall performance and, according to most match reports, the lop-sided scoreline was flattering to the Saddlers for whom Philippines goalkeeper Neil Etheridge had a blinder.

It would seem that Walsall is trading on its reputation from last term when the Saddlers finished the regular season 38 points clear of the relegation zone. Bookmakers, with the exception of Coral, have been slow to catch on to Walsall’s serious problems and one gets the impression from reading Goff’s tweets that his company’s odds would be even shorter if he had to go lower to be at the bottom of the market.

Several bookmakers, including BetfredLadbrokes and William Hill, are offering odds of +300  about Walsall dropping into English League Two after 10 consecutive English League One campaigns. One is willing to take a punt on Walsall being relegated because the odds of the Saddlers sacking Whitney in the short term is fairly big and, the longer that they stick with him, the likelier that they are to go down.

Walsall’s next two English League One games are against two of the division’s promotion favourites, Millwall at the Banks’s Stadium and Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Tips Summary

Walsall to be Relegated from League One
Season 2016/17
Odds:  +300