In his short reign, Jim Gannon has managed to clock up some “impressive” achievements as Vale manager but Rob Fielding argues the club have to make a tough decision on his future.
In his short reign, Jim Gannon has managed to clock up some impressive achievements as Vale manager:
•The first recorded team coach bust-up (allegedly, of course)
•The first manager to arrange his legal appointments via the motorway services
•The first Vale manager to rival Dean Glover in the unpopularity stakes
•The most controversial, continual, against the grain, selection of a player, since Danny Glover was told Lee Sinnott had left the building
Could he now add one of the shortest Vale managerial reigns on record to his haul?
Today’s unprecedented events at Accrington (hold on, “busgate” happened on the trip to Aldershot… what is it with Vale and away trips to teams beginning with “A”?) must leave his tenure at Vale Park in some considerable doubt.
Gannon seems to be in the fairly unique position of being under fire from both sides.
If you’re an anti-board protester, then Gannon’s appointment is a damning indictment of the Bratt/Jackson regime. After all, the buck stops at the top. Who appointed him?
And if you are one of the dwindling number of pro-board supporters, you’re surely going to want promotion to help bolster the board’s fortunes. So, do you really reckon that Gannon is going to deliver that?
Let’s look at the case for and against Gannon in three key areas:
Staff and Player Relationships
Do we really want a manager who is so petty that when Geoff Horsfield is cleared of wrongdoings during ‘busgate,’ the assistant manager is subsequently farmed out to Stevenage on a “scouting” trip? That said, I would imagine Geoff was pretty pleased to leave Jim to face the flak alone this weekend.
Of course, the relationship that Gannon has with his players is a major factor in whether the manager can deliver success.
I have it on good authority, from solid sources that I trust, that relations between manager and some key players are close to… scrub that, are non-existent. We’re not just talking about midfield playmakers with troubled pasts, here, we’re talking about a core of key professionals at the club.
Verdict: Sadly, in this field, Gannon’s skills appear non-existent.
So what about his ability on the pitch? Tactically, do we want a manager that thinks Exodus Geoghaghon makes a better centre-half than Lee Collins? That thinks Gary Roberts isn’t even worth a place in his squad? Not even in the squad? That decision alone, simply beggars belief!
The Sentinel actually claims that Griffith and Collins were set to start but the manager (who travelled separately from the squad) changed his mind before kick-off. Do we need knee-jerk decisions like this?
Verdict: Again, Gannon falls short.
Media and Fan Relations
This is probably the least important of the three areas I am looking at, but again the evidence against is compelling.
I didn’t like the way Marc Richards was left to face the media on Saturday. The Vale skipper’s stature has undoubtedly grown during Gannon’s controversial reign, but Richards shouldn’t have to justify someone else’s bizarre tactics, answer why three of his teammates were sitting on the terraces like naughty schoolboys who’d been punished, or explain why the manager was spirited away in a car.
Those questions are for Mr Gannon, alone, to answer and justify. If the manager is not prepared to speak after the game, he should also protect his players from having to do so.
I don’t condone any of the confrontational (and in isolated cases, reportedly violent) behaviour of the fans at Accrington. But Gannon wasn’t facing angry fans, he was facing the media, which is an obligation that, when he was appointed manager, he was expected to perform.
How about a manager who refuses to read out the team line-up to Radio Stoke (after they published a Gary Roberts story, which the manager obviously didn’t like)? My second child adopts a similar silent tactic when she doesn’t get her way, mind you, unlike Mr Gannon, she’s only three years old!
Verdict: Not good enough.
So, what needs to be done?
Micky Adams was not without his faults, but it seems that Gannon has managed to undo everything that was good about Adams’ regime namely: solidity, team spirit, consistency of selection and solid tactics that made sense.
The board are facing a huge battle off the pitch. Will they help their cause by sorting things out on the pitch?
It would be a bold move to remove Gannon so early into his reign but many fans would argue – can the club really afford any more moments like those at Accrington and Aldershot?
Rob Fielding has been a Port Vale fan for thirty years. He founded the award-winning onevalefan.co.uk website in 1996. These are his personal views and he welcomes your comments on them.