14:00 22 December 2015
By Daniel Briggs & Dale Moon
Meet the backroom staff...
Jon Whitney - First-team Manager
Jon Whitney was appointed Walsall manager on a three-year deal in June 2016 after a spell as interim boss.
Born in Nantwich, Whitney made almost 200 Football League appearances as a defender for Huddersfield, Wigan, Lincoln and Hull, but was forced to retire due to injury in 2001, aged 30.
He first joined the Saddlers in 2003 as a physiotherapist and has since held various coaching, fitness and sports science roles.
Whitney became part of former manager Dean Smith’s coaching team and took temporary control of first-team affairs following Sean O’Driscoll’s departure in March 2016.
He guided Walsall to third in League One and a place in the play-offs, but we were beaten by eventual winners Barnsley in the semi-final.
A lively, enthusiastic and immensely popular figure, Whitney was confirmed as first-team manager on a permanent basis ahead of the 2016/17 season.
Dean Holden – First-team Coach
Former Walsall defender Dean Holden returned to the club as coach in March 2016.
The 36-year-old assists first-team manager Jon Whitney, while working alongside fellow coaches Neil Cutler and John Ward.
The former centre-back scored two goals in 34 league and cup matches for the Saddlers between 2012 and 2014.
Towards the tail end of his Walsall career, Holden also held the title of Professional Development Coach, a position now held by Ward.
The former Bolton Wanderers, Peterborough United and Chesterfield defender left the Banks’s Stadium in November 2014 to take up the role of first-team coach at Oldham Athletic.
During his time at Boundary Park, he also enjoyed a spell as caretaker manager and worked as assistant boss to David Dunn.
Neil Cutler - Coach
Neil Cutler moved to the Banks's Stadium as the club's new goalkeeping coach in March 2011.
A local lad, the 39-year-old began his playing career career with West Bromwich Albion. During his time at The Hawthorns, he was loaned out to Coventry and Chester City before joining Crewe Alexandra without playing a first-team game for The Baggies.
A further loan spell at Chester City came during his time with The Alex and he eventually made a permanent switch to the club. His next move took him to Aston Villa in October 1999 where he acted as cover and made one substitute appearance, whilst also serving Oxford United on loan.
Joining Stoke City in the summer of 2001, he helped the club secure promotion via the play-offs and then the following season, he played an influential role as Swansea City avoided relegation out of The Football League during a loan spell with the Welsh outfit.
His playing career ended with spells at Stockport County and then Rotherham United, where injury brought a premature end to his playing days.
Becoming Goalkeeping Coach at Bury, he then followed manager Alan Knill to Scunthorpe United in March 2011 before leaving the club to join the Saddlers.
Cutler has been credited with the improvement of a long list of goalkeepers, most notably Richard O'Donnell and current custodian Neil Etheridge.
John Ward - Professional Development Coach
John Ward was appointed as the Club’s Professional Development coach in September 2015.
He boasts a wealth of experience, having managed over 700 competitive matches with seven different clubs in a coaching career spanning over three decades.
A forward during his playing days, Ward spent nine years with his hometown team Lincoln between 1970 and 1979, scoring 91 goals in 240 league appearances.
He also played for Workington, Grimsby and Watford, the club with whom he started his coaching career as assistant-manager to Graham Taylor in 1982.
Ward followed Taylor to Aston Villa in 1987 and stayed for four years before leaving for York, where he was handed his first managerial position.
He managed both Bristol clubs in the 1990s – guiding City to promotion from the Second Division as runners-up in 1997/98 – and also became assistant-boss at both Burnley and Wolves.
Ward won promotion with Cheltenham via the League Two play-offs in 2005/06, and later took the reins at Carlisle, Colchester and Bristol Rovers (again), the last club he managed.