No danger of drop under Jon Whitney, insists Paul Merson
Paul Merson has thrown his support behind under-fire boss Jon Whitney – insisting Walsall will not be relegated with him in charge.
The 49-year-old, who managed the Saddlers between 2003 and 2006, believes the work rate and hunger of his former Saddlers physio will ensure the club are not dragged into a scrap at the foot of League One. Whitney has faced mounting criticism from supporters this year with that pressure intensifying further following the FA Cup loss at Newport County.
But Merson has urged supporters to back the 46-year-old, with the former midfielder believing a push for promotion was always unlikely this year. “Hopefully Jon will turn it around,” the ex-Arsenal and Villa star said.
“It won’t be for a lack of trying believe me. And the fans should get behind him because he loves that football club. He really does.
“I would be shocked if they went down with Jon in charge. He will give it absolutely everything.”
“The Newport result really surprised me. I know with Jon, that would have hurt him.
“He is a character who would have loved that type of game. He is someone who rolls his sleeves up and gets stuck in.
“But it’s hard now, not everyone follows their manager. And that would have hurt him.”
As well as pushing for a top half finish in League One, Merson believes Walsall should be doing everything they can to win the Checkatrade Trophy.
“You hear it’s hard times at Walsall but I think they are about where they should be in League One,” he continued. “Without being disrespectful, they operate on a small budget and they are a middle of the table League One team.
“There are some big clubs in the division. Look at Wigan and Blackburn and the money they can spend.
“What they need to be looking to do is having a good run in the Checkatrade Trophy like they did a few years ago. There is no reason why they can’t go out, win that and give the fans a fantastic day at Wembley. I think Walsall need to have a good cup run, make a few quid and then push again next year.”