James Russell thinks the newly hired duo of Manager John Askey and assistant manager Dave Kevan have the team moving in the right direction as the squad approaches the back half of the schedule. And the results are likely to follow.
James Russell writes…
That’s the pattern with Askey, 54, who took the helm at the start of February. He is, after all, the son of Colin Askey, the bulk of whose 15-year career in football was spent with Vale. The new manager told reporters at his contract signing that the new job felt like “returning home.” It must be, as he spent so much of his youth around the team.
John Askey himself started his own playing career with the “Valiants” in 1982, but never saw any on-field action that year. The rest of his long playing career was spent with Macclesfield Town.
After two stints as years as the manager of his own Macclesfield Town – amassing 120 wins and a winning percentage of 44% in the second go around – Askey moved on to struggling Shrewsbury Town, guiding them to a 5-8-8 record in his short stint with the team.
Success Started Early for Askey
Even during his playing days, Askey already showed the flair for reaching deeper and drawing out the best performances, from himself and from his teammates. It’s no wonder that he had a long playing career and even less surprising that the next phase of his career was on the sideline, first as a coach, and then as a manager with his old team, or one of the others that had either faced him or seen him in action.
His success as a player was substantial. His club won the Northern Premier League title in 1987. And that was just the first a series of league titles and cup victories. He was also the player of the year for his team two times, in 1989 and then again in 2000.
That span is a testament to his consistency and remarkable conditioning that made it possible to compete with players many years his junior. But that same consistency, along with his high standards for himself and high expectation of others, made him the perfect candidate to move beyond playing to coaching and managing.
And with his long years at Macclesfield Town, the stage was set for him to begin the next phase of his career, moving from the player’s locker room to the coaches quarters.
Bringing His Winning Ways to Port Vale
The new appointment brings Askey back to where it all started for him. He played his first year for the youth team at Port Vale, his father’s team and the one he was destined to lead to greater success. He now assumes that destiny with his new post as Manager of the squad.
He had already worked as a reserve team manager and as an assistant manager at his own former club, Macclesfield Town. He probably ascended to the top spot a bit too early. His second stint proved more successful, and it’s that experience that he now brings with him to his new job at Port Vale.
The odds on him continuing his run of hard-edged and effective football are very high, as well as the probability that the Vale will improve on their previous few seasons. A jump in the table is another pretty good bet.
But the best bet of all is that the Vale will have a new style of football that will be an image of its manager. The style will be smooth and good to watch. It will have moments of true elegance.
Just like its new manager.