Page’s legacy – coaching changes and professionalism

Page’s legacy – coaching changes and professionalism

Rob Fielding thinks that the key benefits of Rob Page’s stay have been – a new backroom team, sensible loan moves out of the club, a better style of play, clever integration of new players and a professional approach to media duties.

Rob Fielding writes…

Well, it wasn’t that long a stay was it? Just five years after he joined us as a coach, Rob Page is on his way. So what did he bring to the club?

Firstly, Page was part of a new breed of highy qualified managers. Page has UEFA B and UEFA A badges. Some fans may have been surprised when Page was linked to jobs at the likes of Cardif City and (earlier) Sheffield United but those qualifications clearly hold some sway – other clubs were obviously impressed by his knowledge and coaching education.

Page upset the old backroom status quo at Vale Park. The likes of long-serving Mark Grew left as Page brought in his own team…

Secondly, Page upset the old backroom status quo at Vale Park. The likes of long-serving Mark Grew left as Page brought in his own team of Paul Bodin and goalkeeping coach Dave Timmins.

Page also brought in fitness coach John Harbin – a figure somewhat underrated at Vale Park. Harbin has clearly worked hard on things such as motivation and team bonding. If there is a phrase that symbolises all this it is the “one more round” boxing analogy which Harbin instigated and has been used extensively this season. It has clearly helped with team spirit and bonding with player of the year Anthony Grant commenting that “all the players” even those not playing – are behind the manager.

Another phrase regularly used through the Page era was “men’s football.” It was used in connection with Page’s views on the loan system. He felt that young players learned far more from a spell on loan playing “men’s football” than reserve team games. It is something that seems to have worked with Nathan Smith enjoying a highly successful spell with Torquay and Ryan Lloyd and Sam Johnson doing enough to earn new contract offers.

Page also had a singular approach to raw talent – it was not to be rushed until it was ready…

Page also had a singular approach to raw talent – it was not to be rushed until it was ready. Despite a clamour for Achille Campion (his first season) and JJ Hooper (his second season) to be catapulted into the first-team, Page held off until he felt they were ready. It certainly seemed to work for Hooper who ended the season in fine form and (until his season was ended through injury) it could also be said that Enoch Andoh (who could have been knocked back if introduced during the previous season’s relegation fight) benefited from being held back in his first season.

The Welshman clearly brought a more refreshing style of play than predecessor Micky Adams but he also had a different approach with the media too. Rather than Adam’s bombastic and often passive-aggressive style, Page was professional, amenable and sensible with the press.

So, it may only have been a five year stay but Page has arguably left his mark.

Now it’s down to his successor to do the same…

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