In the fourth of a series of features where we ask OVF forum users for their views, it’s Joe B who feels there’s been a whole host of positive changes at Vale Park…
Thanks to Joe B for answering our questions.
1. How happy are you with the season so far (on and off the pitch)?
Off the pitch, the turnaround is something that fans would not have dreamed of when the campaign to oust Smurthwaite was instigated at the start of this year…
Delighted. It is important to keep in mind what most were expecting pre-season; between 12th-15th seemed to be the most common prediction. To be ensconced inside the top 10 for an extended period and to keep in touch with the playoffs, as well as progressing in the FA and Leasing.com Cups, is a significant over achievement, in my view. The side is capable of playing some very decent football and there is a good level of work rate about them.
Off the pitch, the turnaround is something that fans would not have dreamed of when the campaign to oust Smurthwaite was instigated at the start of this year. To be looking at a monumental cup game, a massive concert, and a play-off push, with the possibility of work on the Lorne Street, is a staggering rate of progress in just over six months. There was a genuine, real possibility that our previous owner would have liquidated us in May. The club feels united, and, most importantly, I look forward to Saturdays. The Shanahans are up there with the best owners in the country based on their work so far.
2. Who have been the stand-out players for you?
There is a fairly clear top 4, then the rest; Worrall, Joyce, Smith and Gibbons (in descending order). Legge and Brown have also been very decent, but those four have stood out and been very, very consistent. It is my view that Worrall is one of the top players in League Two. If we can keep those four flying then we have a shot in this division.
3. What areas should the manager concentrate on in the Jan transfer window?
It’s a very standard answer, but a left-back and centre-forward. Montano has done a great job at left-back and his move there has coincided with a great run. However, I think he is still an effective winger, and he can be prone to injury, so it would be great if there is a left-footed defender who can come in and make the position his own, as opposed to the three left-backs we employed at home to Walsall.
4. Where do you think Vale will finish at the end of the season?
Ninth – just short of the top seven but fundamentally a great season for us. The fans are back on board, the club finances in good health, and everything is set up for a nice, stable summer in preparation for a promotion tilt next season.