Sometimes it’s wise not to pick a player simply on the strength of his performances for previous clubs…
Time at the club:
The case for the defence:
Could he have improved with more games and more match fitness? We’ll never know.
The case for the prosecution:
A chronic lack of pace, left just six months into a two-year deal, contributed to a terrible run of form under Michael Brown.
About Port Vale Fail – Lawrie Wilson
There’s often an argument on the forum which goes “why don’t we sign player xyz, he was brilliant for club abc…”
If only life was so simple and a football manager’s job would simply involve picking the players with the best reputation to play for their club. Unfortunately, football doesn’t work like that. Vale fans will remember the signing of Shane Tudor, outstanding when playing against the Vale, but far less threatening when playing for the club. Why does it happen? Well, it’s probably a number of things – outside influences (such as moving to a new area, away from family), the squad (can he get on with the different personalities), the manager, tactics, injury, fitness – the list of factors goes on and on.
Sadly, the weakness of the forum argument to buy “proven talent” was illustrated by Port Vale’s signing of Lawrie Wilson.
In the summer of 2017, Michael Brown was trying to rebuild a squad torn apart by a mass exodus the previous summer and an influx of cheaper, continental signings who had now been moved on. Brown employed what seemed to be a common sense approach, opting for experience with the signings of Michael Tonge, Antony Kay and Danny Pugh.
When Brown persuaded former Bolton and Charlton Athletic defender Lawrie Wilson to sign, fans were enthusiastic. Wilson had been picked over trialist Neal Eardley. While Eardley was to join Lincoln, take part in a memorable cup run, win the Football League Trophy and then earn promotion, it’s fair to say Wilson’s Vale career was the complete opposite.
Picked at the start of the season, Wilson sadly looked completely off the boil as his lack of pace was brutally exposed time and time again. By the time Michael Brown had been replaced by Neil Aspin, Wilson was completely frozen out and not even named in the matchday squad.
Having not played for Vale for three months, it was no surprise when his two-year contract was terminated in January 2019 as he dropped into non-league football with Ebbsfleet. Who knows what may have happened if Michael Brown had picked Neal Eardley rather than Wilson back in the summer of 2017!