OVF founder Rob Fielding argues that the Port Vale squad does not need major restructuring and that he doesn’t agree with criticism of Micky Adams’ decision to offer contracts to the vast majority of his squad.
Rob Fielding writes…
There’s been some criticism of Micky Adams’ decision to “only” release three players at the end of the season. Some have argued it is too few and more widespread changes were required. But I disagree.
I remember back in 2007 when Martin Foyle had a major clear-out. At the end of the 2005-2006 season eleven players left to be replaced by nine newcomers. Of those, only Marc Richards could be said to be a good signing with the likes of David McGoldrick, Justin Miller, Shane Tudor, Paul Edwards and Craig Rocastle all (despite much fan hype over their potential impact) bitterly disappointing. The side were subsequently relegated.
So, for me it’s more a case of evolution rather than revolution and I personally think that next season could well be won or lost on three issues:
Keep the spine of the side intact
I would argue that the side’s spine, its core group is – John McCombe, Gareth Owen, Anthony Griffith, Doug Loft and Marc Richards. Of those five, two are already committed to the club (Loft and Owen).
Yes, Owen (right) had a disappointing and injury-hit season, but I feel that was largely down to the player missing the entire pre-season and I think a fully fit Owen will still be a bonus at the back. If Adams can get the other three to commit to contracts that will have a massive and positive affect on our promotion hopes.
Then there’s that second group of players who I don’t see as the core of the side but nevertheless are important first-team players. In that group I would put Tom Pope, Louis Dodds, Sean Rigg and Chris Shuker. I’d be aiming to keep this quintet too.
Replace any contract rebels with “like-for-like” replacements
One of the key problems with the 2007 season was that the partnership of Sodje and Constantine was replaced with Luke Rodgers and a then unfit Marc Richards.
Any replacements for the likes of Griffith and Richards (right) need to be (at the very least) of equivalent skills and ability. Similarly, if any of the second group (Rigg, for instance) leave, a replacement needs to be of similar quality.
Add a few quality new signings
Rather than adopting a scattergun approach and signing a multitude of new players, who may take time to settle in and gell, I think we need to carefully select a few new players to add to the squad.
This squad wasn’t too far off the play-off last season and with a few quality additions it could even push for automatic promotion. For example, if we can add a pacy striker, an experienced keeper and two new full-backs to the mix, then I think we’d be in with a shout of going up.
So, for me it’s not a lack of releases that would concern me. I’d be far more worried if too many key players reject the contracts that they have been offered.
The club can probably cope with two or three players moving on, but any more and any consistency that has been accrued over the years may be lost – and as the 2007 season shows, that can have disastrous results!
Rob Fielding has been a Vale fan for 31 years – these are his personal views and he welcomes your comments on them.