Some fans claim Rob Page favours his “favourites” – I think that’s rubbish!

Some fans claim Rob Page favours his “favourites” – I think that’s rubbish!

Rob Fielding doesn’t believe claims of “manager’s favourites” and he’s brought out the stats to try and prove it.

Rob Fielding writes…

There are lots of claims online along the lines of “it doesn’t matter if we sign a new striker, the manager won’t play him anyway.”

To me, this is wrong and does Rob Page a great disservice. First off, let’s take some facts on-board:

• Vale had EIGHT debutants during the Crewe game – the first of the season.
• Rob Page has called on 25 players this season.
• He handed immediate debuts to Ryan Inniss and Jak Alnwick despite their lack of experience.
• He was brave enough to pick unknown Enoch Andoh at the start of the season – something I doubt previous managers would have done.

All of the above doesn’t strike me as a manager who has “favourites” and won’t take a risk.

Yes, some players have barely featured for Vale under Page. Among them are loanees Greg Luer, Harry Panayiotou and Jak McCourt. But all three have one thing in common – barely any league experience. I think club finances dictated that we could only afford inexperienced loanees and they were therefore used purely for cover. This explains their lack of game time. And to be fair to Rob Page, none of them have exactly set the world on fire since leaving the Valiants.

Arguably Page is right not to throw inexperienced or unfit players straight in…

Arguably Page is right not to throw inexperienced or unfit players straight in. He gradually introduced Enoch Andoh and Sam Kelly (neither of which had any League experience) after time spent training and arguably it was entirely correct to not rush them as that extra training allowed both to quickly adapt to League One football.

Let’s not forget that our recent history is littered with players who came into the team as youngsters and then failed to make it (Ryan Brown, Levi Reid and James Lawrie to name but three). Perhaps there is a reason why Rob Page is taking his time (and care) to introduce inexperienced players? It’s a policy that didn’t seem to do Enoch Andoh any harm. Would introducing him last season made him into this era’s Simon Richman?

Perhaps the critics are wrong and waiting till the summer was the right time to introduce Andoh? After all, Rob Page has one thing that his online critics don’t have – that is a fitness coach and the ability to watch players in training every day. Isn’t it time to give the coaching staff the benefit of the doubt when they make a judgement call on whether a player is “ready” or not? Some players are “ready” and if that is the case, Page has shown no unwillingness to throw them straight in – Ryan Inniss and Jak Alnwick are excellent examples of this.

Isn’t it time to give the coaching staff the benefit of the doubt when they make a judgement call on whether a player is “ready” or not?

Some fans continue to appeal for JJ Hooper to be given more game time. But this is a striker that the coaching staff say is “looking so much sharper” in recent days (words that suggest he wasn’t ready beforehand) and he is being gradually introduced rather than rushed. After all, Hooper’s on a two-year contract – why rush him if he’s not ready?

Perhaps the fans think Page is being unfair on Remie Streete (so which of Richard Duffy or Ryan McGivern would you drop for him?) or perhaps veteran Michael Brown? Page was accused of falling out with Brown by some “observers” but he recently praised the veteran’s performances as “outstanding” and that hardly seems like bad blood to me.

Perhaps fans think Page unfairly favours old stagers such as Adam Yates and Chris Birchall? Both are valuable squadmen in my book and there’s certainly no evidence of “favouritism” – Birchall has played in 12 games (scoring twice, critics take note) while Yates has played in seven, saved the Vale a month’s wages during a loan to Northampton and arguably got the club out of a hole filling in for suspended skipper Carl Dickinson.

I can’t see how a manager who has used twenty five players already this season can be accused of “favouritism”…

I feel that some fans are more concerned with seeing a new player in action than actually considering if he is good enough. There were many calling for Achille Campion to play last season but when he got a run in the side it was clear that he was far from the finished article.

So, I can’t see how a manager who has used twenty five players already this season can be accused of “favouritism” – to me these claims are utter rubbish and it is simply sensible management.