Neil Aspin, Jamie Vardy and Norman’s plans

Neil Aspin, Jamie Vardy and Norman’s plans

Rob Fielding argues that if Norman Smurthwaite is looking for a manager to unearth potential new talent, then Neil Aspin could be a prime candidate.

Rob Fielding writes…

One of the many interesting developments following the departure of Micky Adams last week was the outlining of a new player acquisition strategy by chairman Norman Smurthwaite. Smurthwaite told the media that he wanted to emulate clubs like Peterborough United who have been successful in recent years buying and selling-on non-league talent. In his press conference, Smurthwaite said: “When you look at the Peterborough model, they develop the kids. This club did it under John Rudge. Youth will be the key going long-term. ”

Before I continue on this theme, I feel it’s only fair to mention Rob Page. Page, as interim manager, may prove to be the right person to take over and to incorporate this new player purchasing tactics. But I always believe that it pays dividends to have a back-up policy and if Page should prove to not be the right candidate, Smurthwaite may want to take a close look at second-favourite Neil Aspin.

Jamie Vardy is currently flavour of the month in the Premier League after his performance against Manchester United for Leicester, but it is worth noticing Aspin’s part in his development…

Jamie Vardy is currently flavour of the month in the Premier League after his performance against Manchester United for Leicester, but it is worth noticing Aspin’s part in his development.

Vardy had been released by Sheffield Wednesday at 16 and was playing for Stockbridge Steel Swifts when Aspin took an interest. Aspin had been interested in the forward while Harrogate manager but was only able to follow-up his interest when he moved to FC Halifax Town.

In 2010, Aspin, who had declared himself a long-time admirer of the forward, finally got his man. Vardy signed for Halifax and Aspin declared “He is a player I was interested in when I was at Harrogate. We watched him again last pre-season and rated him very highly and we have continued to watch him. He is a talent with pace and the ability to play on either wing or down the middle. He is one who the supporters will like.”

Aspin’s words turned out to be true. Vardy hit 27 goals in his first season and was named player of the year as the club won the Northern Premier League title. In 2011, big-spending Fleetwood snapped up Vardy for an undisclosed fee and in 2012 he was transferred to Leicester City for £1m.

Four years and 89 goals later, including 29 goals last season, Gregory was sold to Championship side Millwall in the summer…

And it’s not just Vardy that Aspin has talent spotted. In 2010, Aspin signed up striker Lee Gregory who was languishing in Mansfield’s reserves. Four years and 89 goals later, including 29 goals last season, Gregory was sold to Championship side Millwall in the summer.

If Smurthwaite and wants someone who can spot and sell-on emerging talent, Aspin could be a prime candidate for the manager’s job at Vale Park.

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