This article was published on the Guardian website on the 1st August 2011.
These are challenging times for Vale fans. The conduct of the current board has divided opinions, split the supporter base and dominated discussions. Despite losing a vote of no confidence at an EGM, the board refuses to resign and that has alienated and disenfranchised a significant proportion of the fanbase. The new season is likely to see more protests unless the directors stand aside.
Things are much less complicated on the playing side. There is a cautious optimism that the manager, Micky Adams, will finish what he started. Until his mid-season exit to Sheffield United, Vale were looking reasonably comfortable promotion candidates, but his departure and the disastrous appointment of Jim Gannon derailed the campaign.
The bulk of Adams’ squad remains and while John McCombe, Gareth Owen and Lee Collins provide a solid defensive platform, it will probably be the striker Marc Richards who holds the key to promotion hopes.
If he can produce another 20-goal tally, if Adams remains and if events off the pitch don’t overshadow those on it, Vale could and should be in the promotion picture.
Rob Fielding, One Vale Fan