Rob Fielding understands that Rob Page’s future is in the balance – but whether he stays or goes – he hopes the club don’t rush into a snap decision.
Rob Fielding writes…
Ahead of the cup replay with Maidenhead, a leading Port Vale fanzine speculated that manager Rob Page would have been dismissed if Vale had lost on live TV *
* This was denied by Norman Smurthwaite, we hasten to add.
Now, after a Vale cup exit on live TV (of sorts, Vale were one of a number of clubs to earn £12,000 by being featured on BBC’s Final Score) will chairman Norman Smurthwaite think enough is enough and show Page his cards?
Smurthwaite, by all accounts, was understandably livid after the result and had a “lengthy conversation” with Page after the game. The manager was cagey about what was said commenting that “he sees money slip through his fingers and it is frustrating for him. He just wanted to let me know that.” We bet he did.
So, is it time for Vale to make a change? It’s certainly a difficult time to plead Page’s corner but this supporter would caution fans to be careful what they wish for. Page is a rookie in the game and will undoubtedly have bad spells as well as good. It’s been a mixed start to his reign – but for every Exeter or Blackpool low, there have been moments like the wins over Burnley, Wigan and Doncaster. It’s also worth reiterating that this is Page’s start in management. Even John Rudge had a spell when he faced the sack.
Yes, Vale were desperately poor against Exeter. There should be no excuses for that performance – but how much is solely down to the manager? The players have to go out and be professional which is something that many failed to do on Sunday. The losses of Ryan Inniss, Enoch Andoh and Byron Moore through injury didn’t help and perhaps more tellingly neither did the absence of skipper Carl Dickinson thanks to a needless red card. Perhaps the players should think about donating their wages to the 300-odd fans who made the journey down to Devon?
But having said that, the buck undoubtedly stops with Page. There clearly has to be a decision whether Page will learn from these mishaps or whether he’s not the right man to take the club forward. Undoubtedly, many supporters will go with the latter option. It is a measure of how low Page’s stock has fallen that if he was dismissed, it would not come as a huge surprise.
Now, it’s all well and good getting rid of someone, it’s another matter altogether to find someone better who can take the club forward. If Page is dismissed, the club must pick the right candidate to do the job asked of them.
Unless it’s another rookie (which surely would be a gamble too far) then Vale will undoubtedly be employing a manager who has failed elsewhere. If, as rumoured, it would mean a third spell for Micky Adams, would that really be a long-term appointment? How would Adams fit in to the club’s policy of bringing in promising, youthful talent to develop and sell on. How would his style of play go down? If Vale decide a replacement is needed – they should NOT rush the appointment.
I don’t know what the club will do. All I know is that whatever decision is made it needs to be thought-through and rational. Only history will prove if the decision to stick or twist is the right one – and it’s for that reason that I hope there’s no snap decision. Any sacking or not (and of course any future managerial appointment) will have an impact on our historic club.
This is a time for clear heads not snap decisions.