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
Jean Jackson, from Oakhill, follows Vale home and away. She has been a programme contributor and proof reader for a number of years and is very knowledgeable about the club.
Nicki Jones, from Baddeley Green, is a life-long fan who has worked in the media department and other departments at the club on a voluntary basis.
The new manager is unable to bring in new faces to the squad until January, unless there are any out-of-contract gems to be found. How difficult does that make his task?
Ally: It is an extremely difficult task, however, on paper we have a good set of players who have the ability needed to do well at this level. I would hope the new Manager will be able to motivate the individuals to get the best out of the team as a whole.
Dan: He has a very difficult task indeed. The squad does not look great to me. There are some good players there but the priority is to get them playing as a team rather than individuals. The lack of firepower upfront it a big concern and there won’t be many (if any) 20-goal-a-season strikers not having signed for a club.
Jean: I think there is more to come from the players we already have with a little organisation and belief. I’m very much hoping that the new management team can find this and bring about an improvement in results. We can then review progress in January and see what’s needed.
Nicki: I think it is unlikely that there are any out-of-contract gems still available now. It does make the new manager’s task more difficult until January but I am hoping that the players will be galvanised by the new appointment and all have points to prove.
Some Vale supporters who attended the game at Stevenage felt that in terms of performances, the team reached the depths. Don’t the players want it?
Ally: It has been a very negative few weeks for the players and they have looked very dejected on the pitch. I hope this is turning a corner now and we become much more positive in our performances.
Dan: The main thing I thought we would have seen this season was grit and determination with a Michael Brown team, but we didn’t see any of that. There are a few players that don’t look like they want to be here. One player who is trying his best and has been the only shining light of late is Tyler Denton, his work rate and quality is the best out there in a Vale shirt at the moment.
Jean: I was at Stevenage. It wasn’t good. Like a number of games this season, once we let in the first goal both the fans and players thought that was the game lost. I don’t think it’s that the players don’t want it – it’s just that they lack any confidence at all and to be honest, what I’ve seen coming from the bench under Michael Brown has been criticism rather than encouragement, which can’t have helped.
Nicki: I don’t believe that the players don’t want it but the uncertainty surrounding the management appointment was bound to affect the players and the supporters.
If you were the new manager of Port Vale, what would be the first thing you would do?
Ally: I would want to hold a few practice games to observe where the players fit naturally into the team dynamics. I would play around with the players positions and come up with some strong formations for the forthcoming winnable few games.
Dan: Do a full assessment of the squad, pick players on merit and instill a never-say-die attitude in the players and that should go far in this league.
Jean: Pray! Set a target for the next ten games, share it with the players and ask them if there’s any reason why it shouldn’t be achieved – then tell them to do it.
Nicki: I would tell the players that everyone is starting with a clean slate and that everyone is fighting for a first team place. Confidence is low so a fresh start is needed even though, scarily, a quarter of the season has gone already. Some of the players need to understand what the club means to us as supporters and surely Neil Aspin and John Rudge are the ideal people to get them playing with some passion and pride. I would also think about my half time team talk as for some reason we seem to be a different team in the second half of recent matches.
What would be your team for Saturday’s fixture against Grimsby Town?
Ally: To be honest, I would struggle to name my team after the last few performances. We have found scoring and defending extremely difficult. It will not be an easy job for Neil Aspin.
Dan: Too many mistakes by Roos since he has come in so I would bring Hornby in, Wilson has been a waste of a signing so he wouldn’t be in the squad for me Gibbons impressed but I would pick Yates for his crosses into the box. I would also drop Pope and bring in Turner and bring Pope on later in the game.
Hornby, Yates, Smith, Anderson, Davis, Denton, Worrall, de Freitas, Tonge, Whitfield, Barnett, Turner
Jean: Roos: Gibbons, Smith, Anderson, Gunning, Denton: Worrall, De Freitas, Tonge: Pope, Turner
Nicki: Roos, Gibbons, Smith, Anderson, Gunning, Denton, Tonge, Worrall, Whitfield, Pope, Turner
Any other business?
Ally: It is great to see two Vale ‘legends’ back at Vale Park this week and there is a real buzz around the Football Club. I am hoping this encourages more fans to attend the game on Saturday and we can pack the park for the start of the new regime. Grimsby Town are our visitors and they are expected to bring around 1000 fans. Let’s drown them out!
Dan: The new manager should be given time to sort things out and hopefully the crowd will stick with them. There are obvious areas that need to be improved, it is just unfortunate that there is 3 months to wait before that can be rectified. Who thought at the start of the season we would be in such a mess?
Jean: It will be interesting to see the response of Vale supporters at the turnstiles to the return of the Magnificent Two. I would hope there will be a considerable increase on the 3,300 Vale fans who turned up for the Accrington game and the lowest ever gate for a first team match in the Checkatrade tie against Newcastle. If Vale fans can’t be positive at the moment, I despair!
Nicki: I was expecting an experienced League 1/2 manager to be appointed but am very pleased with the return of Aspo and Rudgie – it makes a change from one of the “journeymen” management appointments. Add Robbie Earle to the new management team and that would be my Ultimate Dream Team!