OVF editor Rob Fielding ponders what he believes are nine key issues affecting the club at this time…
Rob Fielding writes…
Switch to 4-4-2?
Perhaps the most common plea from the fans is for Vale to move to 4-4-2. For many supporters, two upfront carries far more attacking threat than Ribeiro’s favoured one upfront.
Fans would also argue that Vale’s slow starts have been due to starting with one upfront wheras the impressive late shows have often come around because substitutions have resulted in a switch to two upfront.
Quality over quantity?
I argued earlier in the season that I preferred a few quality signings over a host of lesser-quality ones and I still think this argument bears up. For me, the likes of Alex Jones, Jerome Thomas and Remie Streete have shown that quality is hugely valuable.
Vale have a massive squad and it’s high time that some of the “deadwood” was shipped out over the new year period. Vale could easily lose ten fringe players and still maintain the core of the squad.
Sign Streete up now!
Remember the positive vibes generated when Vale announced that Nathan Smith had signed a long-term deal? Well, Remie Streete has arguably been one of the players of the season and I argued months ago that Vale need to offer him a long-term contract before big clubs try to snap him up.
However, only a few weeks ago Streete said there had been no contract discussions. If I were the Vale owner I would be engaging in contract talks straight away so I don’t risk losing Streete for a fraction of what he’s worth in the summer.
League experience is crucial!
I’m sorry if these last two points have a hint of “I told you so” but I also argued that the experience of Grant, Foley and Purkiss would be crucial during the summer. This campaign has shown that players with experience (you can add Thomas and Taylor to the three I mentioned) are more valuable than those new to the English game. That’s not to dismiss the newcomers (Cicilia and Knops have done OK while the inexperienced Smith, Jones and Streete have excelled) but just that they may need time to adapt.
If Vale do recruit in January, I would look for players with lower league experience.
Jones signing would be a huge signal of intent!
We all know that Vale fans can be a somewhat fickle bunch and it doesn’t take much to change pessimism to optimism and vice versa. One of the clear success stories of the season has been the form of loanee Alex Jones and if it were up to me I would break the bank to get him on a permanent deal.
If Vale do sell Nathan Smith for £1m plus in January I would be happy to see a few hundred thousand of that reinvested in bringing Jones to Vale on a permanent basis. Not only is is a wise long-term move but in the short-term it would generate a positive mood among the Vale supporters.
The importance of the cup
I hope the Valiants treat Sunday’s tie against Hartlepool with deadly seriousness. There’s no guarantee that Vale will face a big club if they reach the third round but they would stand a chance.
A glamour tie would not only generate finances but it also helps puts the club on the map and can create a “feelgood” atmosphere. Sunday’s game is therefore a must-win game for the club.
Should Vale talk to Andoh?
He’s probably not the saviour that some think, but with Enoch Andoh still unattached would it be sensible for Vale to discuss a possible contract with him? Bruno Ribeiro was bemoaning the side’s lack of wingers recently and I think Andoh showed enough promise last season to be persisted with. He could offer quality cover (see my earlier point about quality over quantity) for Jerome Thomas should he be injured again.
Address the diminishing crowds through the proper marketing of offers
How many people knew their was a student offer for Tuesday’s game? Or cut price tickets for the FA Cup. I bet that outside of the Vale community the answer would be virtually no-one. If the club wants to increase crowds you need to promote these offers outside of your hardcore support (they will come to the game come what may).
The club’s offers often make good sense and offer good value but they need to learn how to market and promote them better. One simple way to do this would be to offer an olive branch to the Sentinel newspaper and use the newspaper to advertise future match offers.
Ribeiro or not Ribeiro?
Of course the elephant in the room is the future of Bruno Ribeiro himself. He has a clear remit to be in promotion contention by Christmas and what the fans think he stays or goes doesn’t really matter as I think a decision will be made to dispense of his services if form does not pick up.
For what it’s worth, I put my case for Michael Brown to take charge in the summer and should Bruno go I would opt for him as a replacement. Yes, he has no managerial experience but neither did John Rudge when he joined Vale and every manager has to start somewhere. I simply think Brown has the right playing knowledge and (crucially) attitude to turn the club around should Ribeiro not work out.
I’m sure there not everyone will agree with all these suggestions and that there are plenty of other ideas out there. So feel free to pass on your suggestions via this dedicated forum thread