Malcolm Hirst: replace the manager and sell Vale at a sensible price

Malcolm Hirst: replace the manager and sell Vale at a sensible price

Port Vale fan Malcolm Hirst has some forthright views on what actions owner Norman Smurthwaite should take.

Malcolm Hirst writes…

Norman Smurthwaite needs to sack Michael Brown before the match against Bolton on Saturday and put the backroom staff in charge for the final three games. Drastic? Perhaps, but I feel it is the only way that we might avoid the drop this season.

rastic? Perhaps, but I feel it is the only way that we might avoid the drop this season…

Let me say upfront that Brown is not the primary reason we currently look like a team heading for relegation. That dubious honour goes to Norman Smurthwaite, and my views on him have not changed since my last opinion piece. However, we do need to try and find two wins in our last three matches and Michael Brown is clearly not the man to do that.

I never thought that we could have a manager as cautious and negative as Rob Page, but with Brown we seem to have achieved it. Brown’s inexperience and tactical inability have been shown up in the last three matches.

Chesterfield away was probably our most winnable game of the last six. However, I found it hard to comprehend how we continued to play with a system that has served us so badly since Brown took over. Naively I hoped that we would actually have a go at them and play two upfront. Instead we saw a re-run of the Coventry match with Cicilia isolated. We were unlucky not to take the lead, denied by a great save, but that only masked the dismal tactics. Brown is not good enough and needs to go now, before it’s too late. The team performance at Chesterfield was woefully inadequate. The afternoon was summed up by two moments at the end of the match. Firstly, the substitution of Tanser for Kiko, like-for-like when we were chasing the game. Secondly, yet another poor delivery from Taylor.

So to Sheffield at home. I had low expectations for this one, only someone with money to burn would have backed Vale to win this one. I was shocked by the team selection and the position Brown played the players in.

After the Chesterfield match two players should have been dropped. Taylor and Hooper were awful, Taylor shading it for the title of worst player on the pitch. I hesitate to mention players by name but sadly this game was not a one-off and adds fuel to the fire of why Brown needs to go.

And so to Monday away at Oxford. I was pleasantly surprised to see Brown going with two upfront. Unfortunately Brown continued with Hooper. His woeful inadequacies were highlight when young Dan Turner came on. The players in general showed more effort than of late but it’s clear to see, as a team, we lack the ability to be a League One team.

My view of Brown is that he has been too cautious, is tactically naive and plays his favourites regardless of form…

My view of Brown is that he has been too cautious, is tactically naive and plays his favourites regardless of form. In my opinion Hooper, Taylor, Cicilia and Pugh should not start. One of Brown’s other failures has been not playing our best players in their best positions. Eagles should be played in the number 10 role as he looks like the only player capable of scoring at the moment. Foley is wasted out wide and needs to play centre midfield. Cicilia plays his best when used as an impact sub. I really hope Thomas plays in the last three game, we desperately need his quality on the pitch.

So Mr Smurthwaite, please make at least two good decisions this season. Firstly, give us a chance of staying in league One and remove Brown from the manager’s role. Secondly, sell the club at its true value during the summer to someone local who truly cares about our club and community.

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