Michael Brown’s Port Vale squad appears unbalanced

Michael Brown’s Port Vale squad appears unbalanced

OVF editor Rob Fielding wonders if Michael Brown’s Port Vale squad strikes the right balance particularly upfront.

Rob Fielding writes…

So that’s the end of the transfer window with Michael Brown adding to his squad with the signings of midfielder Harry Middleton and loan defender Tom Anderson.

I understand that Michael Brown can only pick up what is available in the market but Vale still look extremely light up-top after this window…

If he turns out to be a good player then the signing of Middleton makes logical sense. Vale are short of numbers in central midfield and with Danny Pugh and Michael Tonge both in the veteran stages of their careers, it’s wise to have a younger player as cover in case either of the older men pick up a knock or (in Tonge’s case) a suspension.

However, the addition of loanee Tom Anderson arguably makes less sense. Not only are Vale well stocked in central defence – they now have Smith, Kay, Davis, Gunning, Anderson (plus youngster Luke Dennis) – but it’s another loan signing making it six (Denton, Harness, Whitfield, Stobbs, Pyke and now Anderson) this season for Vale. But only five loanees can feature in the matchday squad so one is going to have to miss out each match.

This inbalance is a problem in other areas.

Rob Lainton, Sam Hornby and Ryan Boot have all staked their claim for the goalkeeper’s top but only one can play. Can a club of Vale’s size afford three professional keepers (four if you include Joe Slinn) in their first-team squad? What about on the wing where Vale can arguably pick two from five players (six if you include Dan Turner who has also played there). Three of those wing options are loanees so one will miss out on a starting spot which begs the question whether a loan signing in another position would have been better?

I understand that Michael Brown can only pick up what is available in the market but Vale still look extremely light up-top after this window. Surely the addition of a forward should have been a priority?

Vale have five forwards and of those – through no fault of his own – Anton Forrester has a poor injury record and therefore is always a potential absentee. That leaves four players in Tom Pope, Tyrone Barnett plus youngsters Dan Turner and Rekeil Pyke. Barnett has already picked up an injury and also has a poor injury record. Worryingly, Tom Pope is now 32 and more prone to injuries than in the earlier stages of his career. With Barnett and Forrester already in the physio’s room if Pope was injured or suspended it would leave Vale reliant on two relatively untried youngsters upfront. Both Pyke and Turner have shown flashes of their talent but both are young and surely cannot be relied upon to produce it on a consistent level.

The window (permanent or loan) is now closed until January so unless there is a free agent out there, this looks like being Vale’s squad until January. Yet despite Michael Brown bringing in over a dozen permanent signings and six loanees his squad still looks oddly unbalanced.

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