It’s not a very convincing argument but former Port Vale forward Ben Whitfield says he disagrees with manager John Askey’s claim that he doesn’t score enough goals.
Whitfield spoke to the Guiesely FC official website, where he began his career, about his path since leaving the non-leaguers.
The manager at Port Vale told me that I didn’t score enough goals to be a part of his team, which I didn’t agree with as I hadn’t played under him much before and when I had done, I’d scored, so I didn’t really understand that…
Whitfield explains his departure from Vale Park earlier this season as: “The manager at Port Vale told me that I didn’t score enough goals to be a part of his team, which I didn’t agree with as I hadn’t played under him much before and when I had done, I’d scored, so I didn’t really understand that. Me and my agent had a discussion and thought it was best that I leave to go and play elsewhere.”
Factcheck: it’s an odd claim by Whitfield. Since Askey took over as manager in February 2019 Whitfield made eleven appearances and scored once. It hardly backs up the claim “when I had done I’d scored.”
The former Vale player also hints at unrest under former manager Neil Aspin and brushes over the controversial incident when he turned down the chance of a permanent move to the Valiants.
After negotiations broke down with the player and his agent in January 2018 Aspin told the local media: “Following the discussions we had trying to sign him with his agent he was never the same player. I was disappointed with what had gone on and didn’t want to speak to him (his agent) to be honest.”
However, Whitfield’s view was: “In the first six months at Port Vale I did really well and I had other teams interested in me. Lincoln City wanted me and they offered Bournemouth some money, then Port Vale showed interest and they offered Bournemouth some money. Because I was playing so well, I didn’t really want to move so I just asked if I could sign on loan again at Port Vale and continue progressing. I didn’t want to leave Bournemouth because I knew that they were a higher level club than Port Vale, but I didn’t want to not sign on loan at Port Vale because I knew that I was playing regularly in my first six months there. So, when they and Lincoln wanted to buy me, I didn’t think it was the right time to leave Bournemouth so I signed on loan again at Port Vale and I didn’t play as well as I did during my first six months.”
The forward also hinted at issues behind the scenes during Aspin’s spell adding: “There were things behind the scenes there that weren’t too good with the management staff, but I continued to play and scored a key goal to keep them in the league.”
Factcheck: That last part is true, Whitfield scored a vitally important goal in a 2-1 win over Chesterfield that season.
After being transfer-listed by Askey, Whitfield agreed a mutual termination of his contract and joined National League side Torquay United. His new agent hinted at a disagreement with the Valiants by tweeting: “Sometimes you have to do everything you can to get a player away from a manager, even if that means taking a step back to go several steps forward.”
Vale have not missed Whitfield’s presence as a resurgence under Askey has seen the side challenge for a League Two play-off place after several seasons of struggling against relegation.