For Port Vale, every season in League Two is an important one. Relegation to the National League is dreaded by every club, so the Valiants will be thinking big ahead of the 2019-2020 season, both in terms of their ambitions for the year as well as their thoughts on the dimensions of their pitch by using inventive solutions.
As far as their on-field ambitions are concerned, Port Vale have been encouraged by what they have seen so far in their pre-season campaign. After putting up a competitive fight against Premier League side Burnley, there’s no reason not to think that the team couldn’t keep up with its League Two competition. Granted, Burnley was playing plenty of reserves as Premier League teams do during the pre-season, but there was still plenty to like from the Valiants in the match.
In fact, it was Vale who opened the scoring in the match, with a goal from Tom Pope being the only one scored in the first half by either side. While Burnley poured in three goals in the second 45 minutes, there was a period of time where Burnley were not the best side on the field despite being several divisions above the Valiants. In the pre-season, where the process is more important than the result, that is an encouraging sign.
Heading into the 2019-2020 League Two season, there isn’t a ton of faith in Port Vale, as the odds suggest that they have about an equal shot at promotion and relegation. But while the odds might be stacked against them, flashes of determination like they showed in the Burnley game could turn the public perception in their favor to where football tips and the backing of bettors could swing in their favor in a hurry.
Vale is also hoping that thinking big dimensionally will help them in the upcoming season. The team has widened the pitch for some of their friendly matches this pre-season, in hopes that the extra space will better fit their style of play and aid their incisiveness in the final third.
The big concern with a move like that was going to be on the defensive end, where Vale had to challenge themselves against a Burnley team that was superior in open spaces. But having given up three goals to a Premier League side didn’t make for a terrible result to that experiment, and it will be interesting to see how the team approaches that part of the game going forward.
For supporters of the Valiants, the pre-season has been encouraging both physically and mentally, as the team has played well, with three wins out of four, and has shown a great mentality. If those things can combine to lead to wins, it could be a season that surpasses expectations in Vale Park.