OVF editor Rob Fielding says that it’s OK to be upset when key players leave the club, but he’s also happy to wait and see who replaces them before pushing the panic button.
Fielding argues that extreme views about the departures are wrong and he urges a common-sense approach to the departures.
Rob Fielding writes…
Following the departures of Anthony Griffith, Sean Rigg and Marc Richards in recent days there now appears to be two rather extreme viewpoints on the forum.
“Oh no, we’ve lost three key players and we’ll never replace them! “ – the “we’re doomed” viewpoint
“No great loss, we can easily replace those players. It’s going to be simple…” – the “good riddance” viewpoint
Speaking personally (well, it’s difficult not to in an opinion column) I don’t agree with either view.
The “we’re doomed” viewpoint is the easiest to dismiss. We’re in May; we have several weeks worth of transfer activity still to come. I am confident that once the club formally come out of administration that funds will be made available for new signings.
We then have to trust the manager to bring in the right talent. With that in mind, can I make one small plea – I see lots of rumours linking us with players in the 30-plus age bracket. I hope we do try to get a balance of both proven talent AND promising youngsters in. In the past Adams has brought in veterans such as Kozluk, Jorgensen, and Jarrett whom I would argue brought very little to the table. But the youth versus experience argument is for another day… Anyway, that’s my simple answer to the first extreme – we have time (and hopefully the funds) to bring in replacements.
But I also have to disagree with some of the forum responses we had when Richards was on the verge of leaving. This is the so-called “good riddance” viewpoint. The basic argument was – the departing players offered very little (e.g.Griffith didn’t score enough; Richards was over-rated and so on…). I disagree, I think Griffith and Richards, in particular, were key players and brought a lot to the team.
The argument for not mourning Richards’ exit was along the lines of – we could easily get two strikers in for the cost of his wages. I would say that’s far too simplistic a view.
The likes of Richards weren’t just good players they were ESTABLISHED players. They’d been in the squad for a number of years. That’s one thing we cannot say about any replacements – no matter how good they may turn out to be they won’t have been in our squad and established themselves over a number of years.
In my view, it’s relatively easy to sign new players, but it’s quite another to get them to gel with teammates, to match the fitness levels demanded by Adams and for them to suit the Vale’s style of play. So, I would say, no, it’s NOT an easy task to replace these key players who have left. Look at what happened in 2006 when Martin Foyle brought in half a dozen new faces to take the club to promotion. It ended up as relegation. So, I do feel the issue of the disruption caused by multiple new players arriving is underestimated by the “good riddance” viewpoint.
I’d like to touch on the idea of fitness as some of you may wonder why I mentioned it just then. I mentioned it because I think the key quality that Adams has brought to the club is professional training. We all saw the results of his summer fitness regime on the side that had laboured under Dean Glover. And I would argue that you can easily see the problems caused if players miss it. Gareth Owen and Marc Richards both had really slow starts after missing Vale’s summer sessions. Tom Pope was a late summer signing and he initially struggled early on too. So, I would urge that replacements are brought in sooner rather than later – both for the sake of season ticket sales and to help them settle in with teammates and the pre-season “get fit” drive.
You can argue that once again, I am merely urging a middle-ground/common-sense approach. But that’s because I feel it’s the right one. I am unhappy we have lost some key players, but I am not leaping to conclusions about what the consequences of losing them may be.
So, please remove those season tickets from the bonfire pile and let’s see how Vale’s squad is shaping up in late July rather than in mid-May…