Port Vale appear to have a solid squad and a good transfer window for club could see them push on up the table.
James Russell writes…
This season has been an improvement on last season when the club clearly struggled in their first season back in League Two, managing eleven wins from 46 matches and finishing just one point above the relegation zone. Goals were a particular problem for the Valiants, who only scored 49 goals last season and it was clear that things would have to change up front.
The side’s goals per game ratio is much the same as last season and it could be that in January, Neil Aspin will once again look to boost his striking options…
With this in mind, Port Vale manager Neil Aspin signed Ricky Miller from Peterborough United on a permanent deal in the 2018 summer transfer window. In a bid to improve his striking options further, Aspin signed Idris Kanu and Scott Quigley on loan from Peterborough and Blackpool respectively. However, despite the additions, Vale are still heavily over-reliant on the goals of Tom Pope.
The Valiants are in an interesting position in the current League Two table. Despite sitting in fifteenth place, they are ten points above the relegation zone but only eight points off a final play-off place. A couple of wins during the tough December period could see them catapulted towards the play-offs while a couple of defeats could see them dragged into the relegation battle.
A busy December period is beginning to get into full-swing and while it is tough on the team’s stamina, for those who avoid playing the top teams it can be a good time to pick up valuable points. Cheltenham Town, Macclesfield Town, Grimsby Town and Oldham Athletic are the remaining December fixtures for Port Vale and they provide the perfect opportunity to pick up the points that could lead to a play-off place.
The side’s goals per game ratio is much the same as last season and it could be that in January, Neil Aspin will once again look to boost his striking options ahead of the second half of the season.
While goals from other forwards are lacking, this is a similar story in midfield. Manny Oyeleke, Tom Conlon and Antony Kay have all got a solitary goal apiece to their names. Vale have been linked with Glenavon’s goalscoring midfielder Mark Sykes and the addition of the youngster could add more goal threat to the midfield engineroom.
However, it is surely upfront where Aspin will attempt to bring in a reliable partner to Pope. The three loan additions – Quigley, Kanu and Dodds have contributed just two goals and it could be that one or more makes way for another more potent loanee to be brought in. A more intriguing possibility is Vale splashing some of their cash from the Jordan Hugill transfer or the Sunderland/Stoke gate receipts and adding a permanent addition. Aspin has a decent record of plundering the non-leagues – Luke Hannant, Oyeleke and Connell Rawlinson have all been good additions – so is there a further non-league gem out there? Aspin has form in that area having unearthed both Jamie Vardy and Lee Gregory in his Halifax days.
Although the Valiants have neither the squad depth nor spending power of a club like Manchester City, who are the current favourites to become the Champions League winner 2019, they surely have the potential to rival many of their League Two counterparts, it is merely a case of spending wisely. With the teams remaining so close in the table, if Aspin can uncover a gem in January, then expect Port Vale to return to League One next season.