John Rudge and Neil Aspin

What do Aspin and Rudge bring to the table?

What do Aspin and Rudge bring to the table?

Although his first game in charge ultimately ended in defeat, one Vale fan thinks there are reasons to feel optimistic about Port Vale’s new manager Neil Aspin.

A Vale fan writes…

There is reason to be optimistic about Neil Aspin’s return to Vale Park. Not least of all is the fact that he has the vastly experienced John Rudge behind the scenes as his director of football.  So could Aspin and Rudge be the answer for Port Vale?

The real reason both Aspin and Rudge are so perfect for this club is their passion for Port Vale. These guys get it. They understand the club and they want to be here…

After a summer of quiet, albeit misplaced optimism, Vale have sunk to new depths. Sites such as BetStars have lost faith in the team placing Vale at 500/1 to win the league as champions. This puts us on par with the likes of Forest Green Rovers. A sad and sorry state of affairs that surely no-one truly envisaged, even with all the problems we’ve had in recent times.

The sacking of Michael Brown was inevitable after fans’ discontent reached its peak but when the club announced their dream team of Aspin and Rudge, you could almost feel the tension ease within the fanbase.

And with that tension gone, many fans expected instant results, but the truth is that these are the same players that have managed a mere five points from eleven games before the Grimsby defeat. Neil Aspin is not superhuman or a man with a magic lamp, so to expect an upturn in results after only a few days on the job is quite frankly unrealistic in the extreme. Having said that though, had Nathan Smith or Ben Whitfield put their opportunities away, fans would be feeling a whole lot rosier now.

The truth is that now is not the time for doom and gloom. The double signing (or is that hiring?) of Aspin and Rudge was nothing short of a stroke of genius, especially since Rudge proved himself as a fine director of football during his stint at Stoke. He outlasted quite a few managers there and made a name for himself as a director that isn’t easily cowed by boisterous personalities.

Aspin comes to us from National League side Gateshead, which in any normal circumstance is hardly inspiring. But for Vale, it seems a good move. He enjoyed relative success with the Heed, leading them to eighth and ninth place finishes during his time there. He is a manager confident in his abilities having started from the bottom and worked his way up. It certainly beats the current trend of grabbing players that are either still playing or who have just retired and installing them as managers who possess little or no experience.

But the truth is that the real reason both Aspin and Rudge are so perfect for this club is their passion for Port Vale. These guys get it. They understand the club and they want to be here. For them, Port Vale is no stepping stone that will lead to greater things. For them, Port Vale is the pinnacle. Aspin himself even mentioned that he had envied those who held the position before him but had never felt quite ready to make the step up. That is until this year.

And although Rudge did join rivals Stoke after turning down the director of football job back in 1999, he only did so because of his lack of faith in the board. To have our most successful manager of all time and the former club captain that he appointed back at the club is nothing short of incredible. In fact, were you to speak of this dream team appointment during the summer, it would have been dismissed as a fanciful notion.

So, forget the loss against Grimsby, forget our lowly league position (although it’s hard work doing so), and focus all of your energy on creating a positive environment within which Aspin, and to a lesser extent Rudge, can help bring our club back from the brink. Keep the faith people and trust in the dream team, but above all else, don’t expect miracles. We almost certainly won’t get promoted this year, but we can solidify our league status and perhaps even kick on to League One next season.

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