Depth, skill and tenacity – how far can Vale go?

Depth, skill and tenacity – how far can Vale go?

OVF editor Rob Fielding says that the current side are almost unrecognisable from the outfit that played last season.

Rob Fielding writes…

My son’s only started watching Port Vale this season. He thinks every Vale game involves skilful moves, great defending and drama. Yet it was only twelve months ago that Vale fans were bemoaning a side that seemed unable to get the defensive basic right. Ryan Inniss helped put that right and to many it seemed any success this campaign would revolve around getting him back. But while Inniss is a superb summer addition, the win on Saturday (with Inniss on the bench) shows that Vale’s defence are no longer a one-man show. I thought the whole back-line have been extremely solid. In terms of depth, there’s cover throughout – Chris Neal will come back to challenge Jak Alnwick; Inniss will recover from injury; Yates and McGivern offer cover on the flanks.

Vale’s defence are no longer a one-man show. I thought the whole back-line have been extremely solid…

And it’s strength in depth that seems to be the keyword this season. The above paragraph on Ryan Inniss’ importance to the defence last season could easily have been applied to a midfield where Michael O’Connor was a runaway winner of the player of the season. But O’Connor’s absence has been more than compensated for by the form of Sam Foley and Anthony Grant in particular. When you think that Vale have loanee Jak McCourt, veteran Michael Brown and soon to be fit again O’Connor to call upon soon, then the central midfield area is looking immensely strong.

What’s impressive is that Vale don’t resort to “kick and rush” to secure the points either…

However, strength in depth won’t count for much if the side doesn’t display the right attitude. The game against Wigan was a classic case of a “never say die” attitude that has been much in evidence at Vale this season. Just look at the late goals – Sam Foley’s penalty at Swindon, Byron Moore’s strike to knock Burnley out of the cup and Ikpeazu’s late strike against Wigan. What’s impressive is that Vale don’t resort to “kick and rush” to secure the points either. Just watch Byron Moore’s delightful flick in the build-up to Uche’s late goal on Saturday.

Even those fans who were worried about who was going to score the goals for Vale should be calming down. Vale have netted twelve goals in nine games (and two of those games were against Premier League West Brom and former Premier League side Burnley). Besides if Vale’s defence keep performing as solidly as they do, we only need one goal to win games anyhow.

It’s fair to say that I’ve been really impressed with Vale’s start to the Campaign. I’ve always said that we should judge the side after ten games. Well, Millwall on Tuesday will be the tenth match of the season. If Vale impress and win they could be in the play-off spots and I would argue that if that happens, then it’s definitely time for Vale fans to start getting excited about Rob Page’s side.

How far can they go? Over a long, hard season it’s impossible to predict but let’s not live in the future, if Vale beat Millwall on Tuesday let’s celebrate the present and hopefully a place in the play-off positions.