OVF’s verdict on the retained list

OVF’s verdict on the retained list

OVF editor Rob Fielding offers his views on the 2014 retained list. These are his personal views and you are very welcome to reply and disagree (or even agree) with them…

Firstly, let’s refresh ourselves with the decisions that the club has made:

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Retained List 2014

Released:

  • Liam Chilvers
  • Rob Taylor
  • Anthony Griffith
  • Chris Shuker (retired)

Under contract:

  • Adam Yates
  • Chris Robertson
  • Louis Dodds
  • Gavin Tomlin
  • Tom Pope
  • Sam Johnson
  • Ben Williamson
  • Kaid Mohamed
  • Ryan Boot

Offered contracts:

  • Chris Neal
  • Carl Dickinson
  • Doug Loft
  • Jennison Myrie-Williams
  • Joe Davis
  • Chris Lines
  • Ryan Lloyd
  • Richard Duffy
  • Chris Birchall
  • Billy Knott
  • Jordan Hugill
  • Nathan Smith

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Going, going gone…

shuker-chrisIt’s perhaps a refreshing sign of the times that none of the released quartet will go with a “Fail” mark next to their Vale careers. They’ve all played their part – fit and on-song Rob Taylor was a handful, Griffith and Chilvers both helped in the promotion run-in while Shuker (right) was an unsung hero, notably for his unpaid stint with the club.

Goodbye Griff!

Of the four, Anthony Griffith’s departure is perhaps the most surprising but even then, it’s not that much of a shock. Many fans will feel Billy Knott would offer more quality and potential in Griff’s role. Now he’s gone, Griff probably deserves to be the next OVF Cult Hero…

Injuries put paid to trio

The other three (Chilvers, Taylor and Shuker) all qualify for release under the “Vale Park injured persons bureau” criteria and their release should really come as no surprise. I wish all three well.

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Under offer…

Young Guns

lloyd-ryanCritics of Micky Adams’ youth focus may have been surprised to see three youngsters (Lloyd, Davis and Smith) all offered deals. Of those three, Lloyd (right) is perhaps the most fortunate but I hope he uses this chance to push on and force his way into the first-team reckoning. Davis has shown patches of potential but perhaps needs to sustain it for a whole campaign while Smith is one for the future.

Spine of the side

loft-dougIt’s no surprise at all to see Chris Lines, Doug Loft, Carl Dickinson, Chris Neal and Jennison Myrie-Williams offered new deals. I would imagine that Vale will be desperate to keep as many of possible of that quintet. Although all five would be extremely difficult to replace, it is the potential loss of key midfield duo Lines and Loft that would worry me the most. If both were to depart, then the club may have to completely rebuild the spine of their midfield.

Knott a bad choice

I’m sure most fans will be delighted to see Billy Knott offered a deal. Let’s hope he signs it. In many ways, Knott could be something of a Rudge-like signing for the club. He’s a player with potential who has been discarded from a bigger club and whom Vale can attempt to refine and possibly even re-sell at a big profit.

No surprises elsewhere

The other players to be offered deals are also not a shock. Like Billy Knott, Jordan Hugill can potentially be developed into a really good player. Chris Birchall has been under-rated, in my opinion, this season and offers the squad a utlity man able to cover a number of  positions. Richard Duffy has impressed in central defence and would probably be a mainstay of the back four next season.

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Coming in?

I would expect the club to try and sign a like-for-like replacement if any player not offered a contract turns the Vale down, but what other additions could the Valiants look to bring in?

Build the defence?

Vale’s defence has been the subject of much criticism this season, so it would come as no surprise if it was strengthened. The left-side looks particularly weak with Carl Dickinson not under contract and even if he was to sign there’s no cover for his (inevitable) loss through suspension next season.

Experience upfront?

I was intrigued by the club mentioning that two Championship players were interested in the club and I wouldn’t be surprised if Micky Adams (providing he is in charge) brings in an experienced striker like Billy Paynter  or perhaps Ricardo Fuller so the club are not quite so reliant on Tom Pope’s goals.

Loan arrangers?

Unlike last season, I also expect that the club will look to do their loan business earlier. Both Jack Grimmer and Billy Knott cost nothing in wages and if the club can add a couple of players of that quality without affecting the wage bill, it would be better to do it sooner rather than later. If  the club were to loan in a young left-winger (unless Ryan Lloyd continues to develop) and young right-back to offer competition and back-up for the likes of Adam Yates and Jennison Myrie-Williams then I feel that would be good business.

davis-joeSimilarly, a spell on loan did wonders for the likes of Jordan Hugill and Joe Davis (right) last season. I am sure that the likes of Ryan Boot, Nathan Smith and perhaps even Ryan Lloyd could benefit from a spell of Conference football. Who knows, one of those three may even use their loan spell to make a spectacular break-through into the first-team just like Hugill did in 2013-14?

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Any other business?

Boss-eyed?

adams-mickyA lot of the players’ futures naturally depend on whether Micky Adams stays or goes so I’m not expecting any senior players to make a decision until the manager’s position is clearer. But it’s certainly a very odd situation to read that a manager whose mind may be on other matters and who may be speaking to other clubs is also deciding the future of what could be his former players.

Mo to go?

mohamed-kaidIt will be interesting to see what the approach is towards Kaid Mohamed. The winger has had a wretched time at Vale and I don’t think I’d be too surprised if he was offered the chance to leave if a severance deal could be agreed. If not, he needs to impress over the pre-season or he could face a second season either out in the cold or out on loan.

 Sign ’em up!

pope-tomLooking to the future, I would hope that the club move quicker on contracts next season. It would be dangerous to leave the likes of Tom Pope out of contract so talks with the striker really need to start at the end of this year if the club don’t want to lose him. Similarly, if the likes of Hugill and Knott stay and make rapid progress, it would be in the club’s interest to offer them a contract extension rather than run the risk of losing them.

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