Jon Whitney: Walsall interim head coach unsure of future role after play-off exit

Jon Whitney
Jon Whitney's Walsall missed out on automatic promotion from League One by one point

Walsall interim head coach Jon Whitney is not certain of his future role at Bescot, despite coming so close to leading the club to promotion.

The Saddlers lost 6-1 on aggregate to Barnsley in their League One play-off semi-final.

But Whitney's two months in charge proved their most successful spell as they just missed out on automatic promotion by a single point.

"I've planned to be part of it. Which role that is then we'll see," he said.

Whitney told BBC WM: "I need to reflect, sit back, take a breath and see where it takes me."

The mid-season departure of manager Dean Smith to Brentford, coupled with their comparatively poor run under his replacement Sean O'Driscoll, ultimately proved costly for the Saddlers.

Sam Mantom
The 2016-17 season will be Walsall's 10th successive campaign in League One

Whitney's Walsall punched above their weight

When ex-Liverpool assistant manager O'Driscoll won his first game in charge at the Banks's Stadium in December, to see Walsall sat second in League One, he told BBC Sport: "They are punching above their weight. I think the second half of the season is going to be a little bit more difficult."

Yet that was not quite the case once O'Driscoll had departed following a home league defeat by Barnsley in March.

In fact, had the win ratio of 2.08 points per game Walsall earned following O'Driscoll's exit been maintained over a full season, the Saddlers would have won League One comfortably.

Whitney added: "This has been an incredible shift for me since Dean went, and especially since Sean went.

"But I need to go where my heart takes me and I'll have to do that over the next few days when all the emotions have settled down.

"I need to look at myself and look at my staff and see if I could do anything different. But the players have got the taste for it now.

"We are a developing club, who have overachieved this season, but we've got to develop a few more chances like that. This experience can only have been a positive.

"We are going to try to keep the squad together if we can, but it might be a big ask. We will only be able to judge when we know the players we are keeping and the players we are bringing in."

Walsall's League One stats in 2015-16

Dean Smith (until 30 Nov)

Played 19 - 10 wins, six draws, three losses, 36 points, 1.89 points per game

Jon Whitney/John Ward/Neil Cutler (30 Nov-18 Dec)

Played one - one win, three points

Sean O'Driscoll (18 Dec-6 Mar)

Played 14 - five wins, five draws, four losses, 20 points, 1.42 points per game

Whitney (6 Mar onwards, excluding play-offs)

Played 12 - eight wins, one draw, three losses, 25 points, 2.08 points per game

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