Perhaps even the worst manager can sometimes have one good signing in them? In this feature we look at five excellent Port Vale players who were actually signed by much criticised managers at the time.
Tom Pope, signed by Jim Gannon
Arguably a living legend at the club, striker Pope has over a century of goals, a promotion, a record three player of the year awards and is second in the all-time scoring charts. Not bad! So, it may be surprising that it was actually the much-maligned Jim Gannon who initially brought him to the club on loan from Rotherham United. Gannon snapped up Pope on the 28th January 2011. It was the start of a long career in Burslem for Pope. Sadly for Gannon, his stay was to last just another two months.
Albert Mullard, signed by Ivor Powell
For the Vale fans and players of the early 1950s, Powell was the equivalent of Gannon. The Welshman ruffled feathers with his disciplinarian approach. Club legend Roy Sproson was certainly unimpressed telling the media that “he used to treat players like kids.” Like Gannon, Powell’s stay was brief – just four months, but in that time he managed to bring one telling signing into the club. Powell persuaded Albert Mullard to switch from Stoke City to Port Vale in September 1951. Mullard would go on to play 178 times for the club and the defender was an ever-present during that iconic 1953-54 Iron Curtain campaign which saw the club promoted and reach the FA Cup semi-final.
Lee Collins, signed by Dean Glover
Until Jim Gannon rocked up at Vale Park, there was a case for Dean Glover being the most disliked manager of the recent era. However, despite some stinking signings (Neil McKenzie and Kevin Gall to name but two) Glover also had the odd decent one in him. We could have gone with Gareth Owen, another solid Glover addition but we went with the permanent signing of classy defender Lee Collins. The former Wolves man was signed in January 2009 and made 163 appearance before one of the club’s regular financial crises saw him sold to Barnsley to raise some money.
Louis Dodds, signed by Lee Sinnott
Lee Sinnott had only managed in the non-league before being appointed Port Vale manager and after a few months that inexperience started to show. Sinnott’s sides were shown up badly on the pitch but he had an eye for a player. Anthony Griffith, Rob Taylor and John McCombe were all signed by him but arguably the most influential signing was that of Louis Dodds. Over two spells with the club Dodds played 349 games, scored 56 goals and helped win promotion in 2013.
Bernie Wright, signed by Dennis Butler
The late seventies managerial revolving door at Vale Park often brings shivers to those who experienced it. Dennis Butler is often seen as the worst of a bad bunch. He splashed huge amounts on the likes of Ken Todd and Peter Farrell, who failed to live up to expectations and left the club in debt. However, he did have one decent signing in him. In June 1978, he snapped up striker Bernie Wright for £10,000. Seen as a provider at other clubs, Wright was converted to a goalscorer by Butler and rewarded him with fifteen goals and the player of the season award. It was a sole bright spot of a woeful managerial spell by Butler.