It was a hugely disappointing home defeat for Port Vale Saturday. Here are five post-match thoughts.
Central midfield changes a step too far?
There were wholesale changes by John Askey for this game. Lack of chances against Morecambe and Harrogate makes the front two switch understandable while changes at the back seemed sensible but perhaps the error was in the central midfield make-up. Luke Joyce has been “Mr Consistent” and Tom Conlon has had an impressive start to hiss season. So, to drop both seemed a radical move. If it had paid off then Askey would have deserved praise, as it didn’t it opens him up to criticism.
Absences starting to bite?
For all the squad strength this season, it was a game where Vale looked short of certain characters. Nathan Smith and James Gibbons were missed at the back; Manny Oyeleke was missed in midfield and David Amoo could have added something on the flank. It’s an issue beyond John Askey’s control and he must have wished he had all four in his matchday squad.
Time for Tom to step down from spot-kicks?
It would be cruel to label defeat at the feet of Tom Pope. The striker generally did well but he’s a few games away from match fitness. Clearly his penalty miss was a factor and after his penalty miss in pre-season this is now two failed attempts in a row. Is it time for Vale to have a new spot-kick taker?
Askey shows he has a Plan B… but it didn’t work this time
Last week all the criticism was about John Askey rigidly sticking to 4-3-3. This time he switched it around and still it didn’t work. If anything it shows that football isn’t just about formations. Perhaps the issue with this game was that too many Port Vale players were not on top form. There were a number who through lack of action are probably not quite match sharp (Robinson, Pope, Crookes, Clark and Montano) and some who haven’t quite burst into top form this season (Burgess and Worrall). Those factors rather than a Plan A (or Plan B) looked to be behind Vale’s loss.
No time to panic
There’s no bones about it, this was a disappointing home defeat. But I hope there’s no overreaction. There’s a long way to go this season and a mini run of poor results will not define 2020-21. Criticism is deserved after this loss but let’s hope it’s proportional. In general, Port Vale have a strong squad and a good manager this season and they aren’t going to win every game. This was a disappointing loss, yes, but nothing more than that.
These are the personal views of OVF founder Rob Fielding. He welcomes your comments whether you agree or disagree. Click on the button to add a comment…