The supporters feel Neil Aspin has made all the difference
We recently asked a selection of die-hard Vale supporters their opinions on things Vale-relat
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.
Eddie Jackson, from Oakhill, has followed the club man and boy and still attends all Port Vale games, home and away. He has also been a programme contributor and proof reader.
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.
Pete Lawton, from Sneyd Green, is a life-long fan and is a former Commercial Manager at Port Vale, having more than one spell at the club.
Wow! Three wins on the bounce – explain that. Surely it can’t all be down to Neil Aspin – can it?
Dan: I think it was about getting belief into the players that they can win, the organisation has been really good and everyone now knows their role so there are no excuses. The work rate has also gone up to another level and I do think that Neil Aspin has had a massive impact on the turn around. The biggest difference has been getting service to Tom Pope, it shows that if you put the ball into the right areas he will always get goals.
Eddie: It’s amazing how often a change of Manager has an immediate positive impact on results but this effect can soon evaporate. Nevertheless Vale are playing with a higher tempo now and that must be down to Aspin.
Nicki: Yes it can! The new manager has instilled confidence and passion in the same set of players managed by Michael Brown. He is playing players in their best positions and using a system which the players understand and appear to enjoy being a part of.
Pete: Well from how it was to how it is can only be down to Neil Aspin. He has asked the players to listen, carry out his instructions and play to a system. They did and they have.
With a handful of exceptions, even the most optimistic of Vale fans would have expected the win at Exeter. How surprised were you?
Dan: Even with the progress we have made under Neil Aspin I thought it would be a very tough ask getting anything out of the game. What turned out to be a materstroke playing Kay in a defensive centre midfield role seemed to be one of the key decisions on the day. One before the match I had been critical of.
Eddie: I can’t pretend I expected Vale to win at Exeter but Exeter’s 4-1 home defeat in midweek, Vale’s own improvement and the effect of the strong winds will have had some people backing this as a potential coupon-buster.
Nicki: I confess I would have been happy with a point at Exeter but the fact that we managed to win by a single goal and withstand a period of pressure from the home team is another sign that we are moving in the right direction.
Pete: Three weeks ago if it were a boxing match I’m sure the Ref would have stopped it to save us from further punishment! A point would have been more than acceptable but it just goes to show that confidence breeds confidence.
Some supporters are already talking about play-offs – isn’t that a bit premature, or could it be a reality?
Dan: Very premature, a period of stabalisation is now needed and I certainly don’t expect it to be a plain sailing from here. A mid table finish would be a great achievement given the start Vale have had.
Eddie: Exeter themselves reached the Play-off Final at Wembley after sitting in 24th place last 19th November so it is certainly possible but a top-half finish would satisfy me after the disastrous start.
Nicki: I wouldn’t rule out reaching the play-offs as the table is pretty close but, as the cliché goes, we need to concentrate on the next game and take one step at a time.
Pete: Behave! A top 10 finish is what I forecast and still hope for.
Vale’s next fixture sees them at home to Swindon Town. Confidence is sky high at the moment, but how important is it for the players to keep their feet firmly on the ground?
Dan: It is extremely important, if they go out just expecting to win then that’s where complacency kicks in. Under Aspin I don’t expect that to happen as he is a very grounded manager.
Eddie: Essential as it would be disappointing to slide back again after the fine run of victories.
Nicki: It’s vital that the players don’t get carried away with our turnaround in form but I can’t imagine that Aspo and his management team will let that happen. We are still far too close to the bottom of the league for comfort so there’s no room for complacency.
Pete: Aspin gives the impression that he wont allow the players to do any other. Difficult game, Swindon will be there or there abouts come May, so to keep the unbeaten run going will do nicely.
Anything else Vale related on your mind?
Dan: I have been extremely impressed with the interviews Neil Aspin has done so far, he talks very honestly and knows where our limitations lie which i don’t think can be said for the previous manager. I was not 100% that he would be the right choice but now I know he is the right man to take the club forward.
Eddie: Exeter City’s ground is just two-sided at the moment while the stadium undergoes ground improvements. The stand which is going to replace the Old Grandstand looks good if the artist impression is a reliable guide. I have yet to see the plans for the stand behind the goal, replacing the ancient terracing which has been demolished. I love to see small clubs trying to improve their grounds. Be assured that Exeter will complete these two projects long before Vale finish the Lorne Street Stand.
Nicki: It’s been a very tough time for Vale fans recently and over the last couple of weeks it’s been great to see Vale fans leaving matches with smiles on their faces. Long may it continue!
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