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A change of blame

A change of blame
I genuinely believe there's been a change in opinion over the past few weeks. The last League fixture of the season against MK Dons saw a culmination of months of growing disappointment and disillusion at on-field performances. The final whistle on that day was greeted with boos, whilst the post-match award ceremony must have been incredibly uncomfortable for Jon Whitney as the light applause between each award was interrupted by shouts of 'Whitney out' that echoed around a stadium with no more than 500 people left inside.

Whilst the 'anti-Whitney' feeling has not gone away, the anger and contempt towards the Walsall FC Board has continued to grow. And, it's not really a surprise when the club has enjoyed significant (relative) on-field and commercial success in the past few seasons. The JPT run, the Chelsea game, the play-offs, increased TV revenue and of course substantial transfer fees received for Rico Henry and Tom Bradshaw, with smaller compensation packages received for Anthony Forde and Milan Lalkovic also arriving.

So, a club the 2015/16 League One season in 3rd place, is now gearing up for the 2017/18 season with a squad made up with just three regular members of that 15/16 side still around and a whole host of question marks and unknown quantities. Pre-season predictions from fans and pundits alike will start to be drawn up soon, and it's going to be a big surprise if most aren't tipping us for a first return to League 2 since 2006.

Now, is it actually Whitney's fault that we find ourselves in this positon?

Kind of. But probably not as much as many (including the writer) have suggested is the case in the last few months. As I stood watching another aimless performance from a Walsall side on Saturday, I actually felt a bit sorry for Whitney. 12 months ago he entered into a three year contract at a club who had just finished in third place in the division and had one of the best reputations in the lower leagues. Is it really all Whitney's fault that instead of looking to sign from above we're looking down to League Two and across to Scotland to find our new players? Should we blame Whitney for signing Andreas Makris for a record fee and him turning out to be no better than a pub player? Is it his fault that the Rico and Bradshaw money has seemingly yet to find it's way back into the playing squad?

The answer to those questions is probably no.

And it's because of these factors, and a general underlying distrust between supporters and the Board, that I genuinely believe the momentum of blame will start to shift in the main from the boss, onto the Board if significant transfer activity isn't seen and results in the first few weeks of the season aren't positive.

Jon Whitney is nowhere near perfect, but 3rd place in 2016 could quite easily turn into 24th if we aren't careful and that would quite simply be down to those at the very top.

Here's hoping it doesn't come to that and Whitney is backed in the next few weeks.

A panic signing from Cyprus simply won't cut it this time around.

Date:Sunday July 16 2017
Time: 9:42PM

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