What Are The Thoughts Of The Vale Supporters?
We recently asked a selection of die-hard Vale supporters their opinions on things Vale-related
Mark Porter, from Kidsgrove, has followed the Vale all of his life and is proud to be the Chairman of the Port Vale Supporters’ Club.
Gerard Austin, from Hartshill, is the club’s match photographer, a role he has undertaken for a number of years now. He attends all Vale’s home and away games.
Ally Simcock, from Stoke, is on the national council of the Football Supporters’ Council and is a support liaison officer at Port Vale and former Chair of the Supporters’ Club.
Dan Beech, from Burslem, is a Vale fan of 30 years and has assumed many roles at the club, including ball boy and programme seller.
Things seem to have from bad to worst recently, can you see any light at the end of the tunnel?
Mark: At the moment I’m struggling to see where the next win is coming from, but I do think we will be ok, once we find a settled side and play two up front at home. I think that would give the team a lot of confidence.
Gerard: It’s still very early days. Our recent demise is keeping the keyboard warriors busy but whilst I’m a little edgy about most of our results I do think we have some quality players in our squad. We’ve a mix of young hungry players together with older experienced heads, but maybe the younger lads need to increase their hunger, with the experience ones needing to put more of their experience to good use. Systems do not win matches, players do, which is a fairly ancient adage but I am still left thinking that there is a system for the players we have, but we haven’t found it yet.
Ally: It feels as though it’s all doom and gloom at the moment. Fans are getting frustrated and the losing streak we are on seems never ending. However, we are only five games in and I’m less inclined to worry our position in the table after so few games. When is the right time to worry though?
Dan: Not really and I don’t think we will until Brown picks a side and sticks with it for a few games. The team has had no time to get to know each other’s game as they don’t play together on a regular basis, and play two strikers up front at home.
Most fans admit Vale have performed well in the last couple of games, but still not got the results. How would you set up the team differently?
Mark: I’d play three at the back with attacking wing backs, and look at playing two up front – this system with one up front just isn’t working, especially at home.
Gerard: I think Tom Pope looks isolated at the front and makes us appear a bit one dimensional. Tom never ever gives less than his best, but he could do with a man up there with him to make us a more potent force. I feel that the free role Dave Worrall was given last Saturday worked as he impacted on the team greatly, but I think that the changes in goal with Sam, Ryan and Rob swapping goalkeepers jerseys has not helped settle a defence. We have some pacy lads in midfield, but when assisting the defence is not necessary – they need to be more influential further up the park.
Ally: I would put two upfront. We all love Tom Pope, but he’s never been blessed with excessive pace. He needs someone with him who can ‘feed The Pope’.
Dan: I would play 4-4-2 with Pope and Barnett up front and ensure that the wingers are briefed to get to the byline and whip in crosses.
It seems Vale are getting punished at the back for silly mistakes – is that the fault of the manager and his staff? Surely they can’t foresee mistakes happening?
Mark: I feel that the buck has to stop with the management, I feel they are making too many changes and not putting a settled side together – for me this is imperative. Michael Brown has been in charge at Vale for 31 games – in that time we have won 6 drawn 8 and lost 17 that’s a 19.4% win percentage
Gerard: We are very much into another ‘when they cross that white line scenario’ here. This goes back to the unsettled goalkeeping position. A good commanding ‘keeper will marshal his defence and I think because of those changes in that area we have been unable to set up a rapport with the defence. I honestly believe this is true of Nathan Smith and Anthony Kay. One is a fine young prospect and the other has loads of experience, but they haven’t hit it off just yet in my opinion.
Ally: Unfortunately, football is fickle but the buck stops with the Manager. Regardless of whether it is his fault or not, he will always be the person who fans look to for answers. We are still ‘bedding in’ as far as the team is concerned, but I do think the standard of football has improved somewhat over the past few games. We just need to learn from our mistakes and turn our weaknesses into positives.
Dan: The management team hold some of the responsibility playing players out of position.
What would your team be away to Coventry?
Mark: Lainton – Wilson Smith Dunning Denton – Harness Worrall De Freitas Whitfield – Pope Barnett. bringing in Wilson at right bac,k giving Smith & Dunning the centre back pairing with Tyler Denton in at Left back and, if fit, Barnett to make his League debut alongside Pope.
Gerard: I would like to see us set up positively and go for a win. Rob Lainton’s position is, I think, safe and in an air of building some stability at the back I would keep him there. I personally see Tom Anderson chomping at the bit to replace one of the central defenders. My 11 would be Lainton – Davis Anderson Smith Denton – Whitfield Worrall De Freitas Montano – Pope Turner, but I’m not Michael Brown and given his experience in football I wouldn’t dream of telling him his job.
Ally: I would definitely start with two up front and go with an attacking formation. Marcus Harness would feature, so would Dan Turner and Nathan Smith. Hopefully the injured players will be available for selection soon, we are definitely missing them.
Dan: Lainton – Yates Smith Gunning Dento, – Harness Middleto, Worrall Whitfield – Pope, Barnett
Any other business?
Gerard: Vale are currently in a massive downward spiral and it is very, very difficult to breakout of this. The longer it goes on the harder it will be. Michael Brown can only talk positively to his squad, which I’m sure he will be doing. He has tons of experience on his bench as he and the coaches have played in over 1500 career games between them all. They will have seen it done it and bought the T shirt so it is up to them to use all of that experience to arrest the slide and make us real contenders this season. It’s a difficult ‘ask’, but when you look at this division its mandatory to have camaraderie and fitness in your squad. We’ve certainly been fitter this season and I believe that the camaraderie is good. Will it be enough? Here’s hoping!
Ally: I have everything crossed for a result on Saturday, which will hopefully boost the players and turn our fortunes around. Even in the face of adversity, let’s get behind them and try to keep the faith.
Dan: The next couple of games are crucial, is Brown loses them then I certainly think there needs to be a change of manager as the lack of experience has shown with how we have tactically setup and I haven’t agreed with many of the substitutions made.