Why Port Vale’s continental gamble could be a masterstroke

Why Port Vale’s continental gamble could be a masterstroke

Guest columnist Martyn Cooke thinks that the club’s continental gamble “could be a potential masterstroke – or a disaster.”

Martyn Cooke writes…

So, just like Manchester United, Port Vale have installed their very own Portuguese maestro as they look to make a serious impact in the season ahead.

The publicity that will surround Bruno Ribeiro’s appointment will never match the level of interest show towards his compatriot in Manchester, but you can guarantee that it will generate a curiosity that will have people all across The Potteries talking.

That is a good thing, and Norman Smurthwaite’s continental gamble could be a potential masterstroke – or a disaster.

The Gamble

He is a shrewd businessman and he will recognise that the best way for him to recoup the money that he has invested will be to push the football club into the Championship…

On the face of it Ribeiro’s recent managerial record makes for unimpressive reading. As manager of Vitoira Setubal he managed just three wins in seventeen games as he steered them away from relegation, and more recently he lasted just over two months at Belgian club Ludogorets before being relieved of his duties.

But let’s make no mistake here, this gamble will probably represent a final throw of the dice for Smurthwaite as Chairman. He is a shrewd businessman and he will recognise that the best way for him to recoup the money that he has invested will be to push the football club into the Championship. For a man who seemed determined to step away from the club only months ago, he must have seen or heard something with Ribeiro to make him believe that promotion is a realistic possibility.

Change in Direction

The appointment of Ribeiro signals a change in direction for Port Vale. Over the last decade the club have hired a succession of stereotypical British managers. There has been the experienced warhorse (Micky Adams), the young, promising coach (Rob Page), the loose cannon (Jim Gannon), and the lower league prodigy (Lee Sinnott). All experienced mixed levels of success, but none were ever able to force the football club into genuine contention for a place in the Championship.

Ribeiro is young, ambitious and appears to be held in high regard by those who work within football, especially it seems by Mourinho. His appointment is a clear demonstration of the chairman thinking outside the box and the fresh approach and ideas that the new manager will bring may be just what Port Vale need to be sparked back into life once more.

The first, immediate issue facing the new manager will be the daunting task of re-building the playing squad. Long-serving stalwarts such as Richard Duffy and Louis Dodds, the creativity of Michael O’Conner, and the goals provided by A J Leitch-Smith will be hard to replace. However, if rumours of numerous continental based players being offered deals comes to fruition it will provide Ribiero with the perfect opportunity to re-mould and re-energise the team on the pitch.

Fresh and Exciting – Enjoy the Ride

The best advice for all Vale supporters would be to buckle yourself in and enjoy the ride…

As with any managerial appointment there will be no guarantee of success, but Ribiero’s arrival will provide a fresh and exciting outlook for the season ahead. The best advice for all Vale supporters would be to buckle yourself in and enjoy the ride.

If he can replicate a small portion of the success that his Portuguese compatriot in Manchester has experienced over the last decade then Port Vale’s continental gamble on Ribiero may turn out to be a masterstroke.

Martyn Cooke is a Research Associate at the Manchester Metropolitan University where he is a specialist in Sport & Leisure History. His current research focuses on the development and growth of football in the Potteries. Martyn also writes extensively on local football stories across Staffordshire.

@cooke_martyn                              martyn.cooke@mmu.ac.uk

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