Adams leaves an impressive legacy

Adams leaves an impressive legacy

Long-serving Port Vale supporter and blogger Tom Bourne gives his views on Micky Adams’ departure from Vale Park.

Tom Bourne writes…

The saying goes that all political careers end in failure.  In a sporting sense, there is a parallel with boxing. No matter how much success and fame enjoyed, it invariably ends with the champion flat on his back for the final time.  The same now applies to Micky Adams, whose two-spell, five year reign as Vale boss has come to a sad end following defeat to Bristol City on Tuesday night.

Adams can leave with his head held high for a job well done…

It appeared the writing was on the wall in the aftermath of the latest defeat as the Vale boss seemed bereft of ideas or the requisite energy to take the club forward.  Although there remained a feeling that he deserved the opportunity to turn things round, given his record, it is probably in the best interests of both parties to go their separate ways rather than prolong the agony.  Adams can leave with his head held high for a job well done.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but there was a feeling among many that last summer had marked a natural end point.  The never ending saga over his new contract grew wearisome.  Pressure mounted on Chairman Norman Smurthwaite to back his man, both with a new deal and additional financial clout after disappointing season ticket sales.  To his credit, he did.  However, the return on his investment has thus far been negligible.

Much excitement initially followed some of this summer’s signings.  Adams had seemed to bring in a bit of extra quality, especially in midfield.  Michael O’Connor, Mark Marshall and Byron Moore, in particular, looked as if they would provide some additional cutting edge.

The side has looked unbalanced, lacking in energy and direction…

In truth, despite a promising start to the season, many of the signings had begun to look confused, and team selection increasingly haphazard.  The side has looked unbalanced, lacking in energy and direction.  Even going back to the promotion campaign of a couple of seasons ago, the two main failings were the lack of an aggressive centre half and the inability to cope with teams that flooded the midfield.  That hasn’t changed. During this period, Vale simply out-powered and out-scored sides.  Alas, no more. The partnership of Richard Duffy and Ryan McGivern at centre half lacks a real ball winner.  Likewise in midfield, the pairing of Chris Lines and Michael O’Connor has failed to gel-despite their technical ability and has provided little or no protection to the back four.  The signing of Achille Campion on deadline day looks all the more odd given squad weaknesses elsewhere.

Given Adams’ favoured high-intensity style and 4-4-2 formation, the loss of Billy Knott and Doug Loft have been crucial blows.  Knott’s ability to press high up the pitch and Loft’s athleticism and energy were key components.  The style of player, technically, arguably improved over the summer, but the style of play hasn’t followed suit.  Vale and Adams have simply failed to evolve.  The side has lost physicality and energy, but has failed to develop to incorporate a different type of player.  For all Adams’ strengths (and they shouldn’t be under played) you wouldn’t say addressing tactical flaws was one of them.

Adams deserves enormous credit for fostering a team spirit and togetherness that propelled the side to the top of the table…

This is not to denigrate the job he has done.   Steading the ship after the mess left behind by Messrs Sinnott and Glover, he guided the club to a respectable mid-table finish during his first season.  He followed that up by leading Vale into the automatic promotion spots before leaving for Sheffield United and then watching the season self-implode from a distance.  Following administration and the collapse of Keith Ryder’s takeover, Adams deserves enormous credit for fostering a team spirit and togetherness that propelled the side to the top of the table ahead of Paul Wildes and Norman Smurthwaite’s takeover. That heady day on 20 April against Northampton Town shouldn’t and won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

That’s not to say Adams was universally popular.  His somewhat prickly persona didn’t endear him to all.  Nor did his role during the political turmoil that followed on his return, when he misjudged the strength of feeling against the regime.  All of which is ultimately inconsequential.  The role of a football manager is to win football matches.  Sadly there have been few of those of late.

As for the future.  Well, history has shown us what happened the last time Adams left the club.  If there is a feeling among some that he had taken the club as far as he could, and that a change was needed to progress, then there is also the possibility that the opposite could occur.  Lessons need to be learned from previous experience.  Appointing from within has its own drawbacks, as we’ve witnessed before.  If there is a fundamental problem that can’t be solved by the manager, then what is the likelihood that his first team coach can find a solution?  However, Robert Page is well regarded in coaching circles, is ambitious , and will now have the opportunity to stake his claim.  Possible other contenders include Neil Aspin at Halifax, although I’m not convinced there is a great deal of enthusiasm to see another club legend suffer the same fate that befell others.  Burton boss Gary Rowett was available last summer, but is now attracting the interest of other clubs, while an experienced hand such as Sean O’Driscoll might be well suited to this group of players, although he has recently been appointed England U-19 coach.  Martin Allen need not apply.

He leaves an impressive legacy and with our best wishes.  He turned the side from a wimpish rabble into an organised, disciplined and committed unit…

As for Adams.  He leaves an impressive legacy and with our best wishes.  He turned the side from a wimpish rabble into an organised, disciplined and committed unit. He restored some much needed pride back to the shirt at a time when it was virtually non-existent.  20 April 2013 should be his epitaph.  Thanks for the memories, Micky.  Good luck.  Over to you Mr Chairman.

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