Neil Aspin

Yes, Vale are in trouble but Aspin is still the right man for the job

Yes, Vale are in trouble but Aspin is still the right man for the job

Rob Fielding thinks Neil Aspin deserves to be backed and reports of calls for his head are frankly, ridiculous.

Rob Fielding writes…

I am somewhat alarmed by reports that some fans have already called for manager Neil Aspin’s head after a week during which Vale conceded seven goals in two games. It’s ridiculous and I can only hope those calls were made in jest.

In my view, Aspin is a honourable, loyal and admirable man to have in charge… He deserves the chance to show his ability over a sustained period.

If not, I really think some measure of perspective is needed by supporters. I remember one forum poster on OVF recently mentioned that “even Mourinho would struggle with this squad.”

Just consider:

  • In eleven games, Aspin has already won as many games as Michael Brown’s entire managerial spell
  • He’s won two cup games including one against a League One side
  • He’s been open and honest during interviews
  • He’s managed his six wins while still promoting the likes of James Gibbons to the first-team

Now consider the obstacles in his path:

  • He has been unable to add to Michael Brown’s squad apart from emergency keeper loans and a free agent
  • He has been beset by goalkeeping injuries and had to trust in rookie Ryan Boot
  • His most impressive loanee, Ben Whitfield, got injured when in fine form
  • He’s had to make the leap up from non-league to league management

In those circumstances, his record of a 50% win rate is truly remarkable.

Vale may already be doomed but that is surely the result of poor previous management appointments and a terrible transfer record in recent seasons. Aspin will not be to blame if Vale do drop through the trapdoor.

I think clubs are far too quick to sack their manager (I think the men in charge really need at least two transfer windows to show their worth unless things really are desperate) and fans are often far too quick to demand instant success.

In my view, Aspin is a honourable, loyal and admirable man to have in charge. Quite apart from his “club legend” status helping to unite the fans, he has shown his managerial ability by trusting in James Gibbons and providing a service for Tom Pope upfront. He deserves the chance to show his ability over a sustained period.

In local football, all three League clubs have arguably had their best spells when they trusted in a manager and gave them time to develop their style. Tony Pulis, Dario Gradi and John Rudge all brought success over long periods. If you look elsewhere you can see this method working – just look at the success that Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe are having.

So, now is not the time to criticise the manager, now is the time to recognise the limitations he is working under. By his own admission he has a bloated, unbalanced squad which needs additions in several areas. He has been hit by injuries to key players notably Ben Whitfield. His hands in transfer market terms are tied. I am sure that given a transfer window, the Vale squad will look markedly different. It won’t be “job done” as it may take a lot to remove some players on long contracts but I think we’ll see a difference.

So, until the window opens, I think it’s time to back Neil Aspin and see if he can continue to upset the odds by getting results out of arguably one of the poorest Vale squads in years.

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