Here are all (OK most of) the key events from the summer in one single (and rather long) diary entry…
Rob Fielding’s summary…
I started supporting Port Vale when I was a mere youngster back in 1980 and I have been updating this website for twenty years now (I started in 1996). However, I cannot remember a busier summer than this one. I would argue that the summer of 2012 was more dramatic (as the club faced extinction) but I recall that the news that year was few and far between at times.
This summer has seen a far more rapid turnaround of stories than any other pre-season. If I can talk shop for a moment, then I have seen days this summer when I have changed the lead story on my site five or six times. In previous seasons, I struggled to even find a single daily lead story of note at times.
So what’s happened? I hope you’re sitting comfortably as I’m about to begin…
After Rob Page leaves for Northampton (19th May), there’s an anxious wait as various managers are linked, there’s a remarkable intervention by Jose Mourinho (2nd June) and finally, a month after Page’s departure, Bruno Ribeiro is unveiled (20th June) as the club’s first foreign coach. After the departures of coaches Paul Bodin and Dave Timmins (30th June), Ribeiro brought in his own coaching staff (29th July), however, Peter Farrell who was announced as part of the original coaching team never linked up with the club.
Senior players depart
We’ve seen nine senior players reject new contracts and join other clubs. In order of departure it was long-serving Louis Dodds joining Shrewsbury (26th May), Richard Duffy joining Eastleigh (27th May) and subsequently Notts County, then it was Michael O’Connor confirming he was leaving (27th May) and eventually joining Notts County (29th June). In June, Shrewsbury announced the double signing of Ryan McGivern and AJ Leitch-Smith (3rd June) and another double departure as Byron Moore and Colin Daniel both leave to join Bristol Rovers and Blackpool respectively (17th June).
Still with us? After Sam Johnson signed and promptly went on loan (23rd June) it was the turn of Vale skipper Carl Dickinson to leave and join Notts County (28th June). Finally, promising winger Enoch Andoh’s future at the club also appeared to be at an end (8th July).
Ribeiro brings in his first players
After a quiet first week in the job, the floodgates opened as the new manager started to build his new squad. First through the door was Dutch defender Kjell Knops (28th June) – a move delayed by problems with medical records (and delays were to be a running theme of the new signing announcements) and despite false rumours of Achille Campion re-signing more confirmed moves were swiftly to follow. There was new striker Rigino Cicilia (30th June) then the triple signing of French duo Anthony Defreitas and Quentin Pereira plus Dutch defender Calvin Mac-Intosch (1st July).
Four days later, midfielder Paulo Tavares signed-up alongside left-back Kiko and striker Carlos Saleiro (5th July). Then it was the turn of Christopher Mbamba to join Vale (9th July) and he was followed by veteran winger Jerome Thomas (11th July) and promising striker Anton Forrester (12th July).
There was then a brief hiatus during which time, player of the year Anthony Grant’s transfer request was given short shrift by chairman Norman Smurthwaite (19th July). Then it was back to the business of signing players – Sebastien Amoros joined (20th July) while Vale were also linked with moves for Nathan Tyson (23rd July) and even former Vale striker Tom Pope (21st July). Burton midfielder Nathan Ferguson was the next to join (26th July) and there was the potential for even more arrivals ahead of the season as Benfica goalkeeper Miguel Santos was strongly tipped to join the club along with a proven goalscorer.
Vale started a busy summer with wins over Newcastle Town (9th July)and Kidsgrove Athletic (16th July). It was then the turn of a number of higher-placed clubs to face the Vale. There were losses to Nottingham Forest (19th July), Birmingham City (27th July) and Sheffield Wednesday (31st July) but the Valiants drew with Wolves (23rd July) and beat a Man Utd XI (30th July).
We’ve had a very public spat (21st July) with the Sentinel newspaper (something that OVF criticised the chairman over) and a claim that the budget was deliberately reduced (11th June) to force Rob Page and certain players out.
On to more positive things and there was the potential addition of seats to the unfinished part of the Lorne St stand (27th June) and a commendable stance taken by the Chairman against the introduction (11th June) of B sides into the Football League Trophy.
There was also a Q&A session on BBC Radio Stoke just ahead of the season as the owner and manager outlined their plans. With the new season almost upon them, it was now time to put those plans into action…