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10 games in


philmpv

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So, how do we think that the squad is looking at this stage, 10 games (including league cup) in, and following the return from injury of many of the 'core' players?

 

For me, this was always going to be a season of transition (yet again), but one for which I had/have high hopes of a marked improvement from the last 2 seasons.

 

Sensible recruitment and progress is all that I wanted. I believe that we are seeing this.

 

Here's my take on the squad as I see it (new signings first):

 

BROWN - A must in the Summer, to bring in an experienced keeper, who would likely cement his place in the starting 11, giving the defence in front of him confidence that they have some protection in behind. From what I've seen so far, arguably the best signing of the close season. Has made some tremendous saves, commands his area, and his distribution is adequate.

 

RAWLINSON - Steady and generally reliable. Not a world beater by any means, but does his job, and does it with little fuss. Has made the odd error, but who in our back 4 hasn't, apart from Legge? Given that this is his first season in League football, I think he has aquitted himself well, and will only get better. Doesn't help, though, that he's having to fit in at RB at the moment.

 

LEGGE - What can you say? An absolute monster. Pre-season, I think most if us were thinking he's past it. How wrong he's proved us. Just the no nonsense centre back we've been crying out for. Wins everything, and takes no prisoners. Hopefully, Gavin Gunning is now a distant memory.

 

CLARK - Superb signing, who can cover both FB positions. For someone who has little to no league experience, he has excelled. Again, prone to the odd error or bad decision, but that's to be expected of a youngster. Scouted by JR himself, and it shows. Again, one who is only going to get better with experience.

 

MANNY - For me, the difference between us winning and losing. The best signing we have had for some time. Tackles, is mobile, and as soon as he gets the ball he's on the charge and looking for options up front, and rarely wastes a pass. Has the potential to play at least 2 leagues above, in time. If he stays injury free and playing as he is, he will attract a lot of interest in January. As he's only on a 1 year deal, trying to tie him down to at least another year before January has to be the Club's priority. He's a London boy, so if he gets the opportunity to move back down south, I suspect he may want to take it.

 

CONLON - Pre-season, he impressed me. Given his injury, we haven't seen much of him since, but he looks competent and, again, mobile. This is something that we have sorely lacked for the past 2 years. Only going to improve.

 

JOYCE - Looks a decent enough player in that holding role. My only gripe would be that all too often he passes sideways or backwards when there are options ahead, and slows the play down too much. To be fair, he hasn't often had Manny ahead of him due to injury, so I may be being a little harsh (both played well together at Crewe).

 

WHITFIELD - Has looked hungry and happy since returning, and we all know what he can do on his day. I'm willing to forgive the second half of last season, as I think that the situation with his agent did not help one jot. Now he's here permanently, all seems to have been forgiven and forgotten. Only going to improve with games/fitness.

 

MILLER - I was quite excited by this signing. He hasn't scored as many as he would have liked (or any of us would have liked) but to concentrate on his scoring record ignores the material contribution that he does make. He's always a threat, gives the opposing defence a torrid time (shown by the fact that he's our leading penalty winner!), and at least gives Tom some option. His decision making does let him down, a lot (he reminds me a little of a schoolboy trying to score all of the time and ignoring his teammates). If he can get his head right and learn that it has to be a team game at this level, then he'll be one hell of a player. Let's hope Tom's moaning does the trick eventually!

 

DODDS - For me, not one for the first team, but maybe a squad player. I didn't particularly rate him before, and still don't. His chance came against Newport, but he failed to take it. I know that he divides opinion. This is mine.

 

QUIGLEY, KANU, HARDCASTLE, VASSELL, DANIELS - I've not seen enough of any of these to form an opinion. Hardcastle, at least, seems a decent squad option. Disappointing that Daniels doesn't appear to have taken his chance, and turned up to pre-season training unfit.

 

HORNBY - Capable back up to Brown. I have little doubt, if he has to come in, he will do a job.

 

GIBBONS - Was excellent when he first came into the team last season (but, let's be honest, an actual Gibbon would have been better than Wilson and all of the other players tried at RB under Baldrick). Form slipped throughout the second half of last season, and the malaise appears to have continued this season. It's not his tackling, for me, which is the issue, but his distribution. I accept that he's still learning the game, and will probably improve but, for now, he's not a starter.

 

SMITH - Pretty much the same as Gibbons. Has improved playing next to Legge over the past few games. Maybe this is what he's need all along?

 

WORRALL - The biggest disappointment of the season for me. Yes, he's playing out of position, but his crossing is shocking, and he hasn't influenced any games to a notable degree, contrary to a few last season. One for the bench whilst Whitfield is playing as he is.

 

POPE - A legend. Handful for all, and scores. What more can you ask of a striker?

 

HANNANT - Good player. Utilised around the pitch, and rarely lets anybody down. He's now started chipping in with both assists and goals. Seems to be improving with experience in the league. One of my favorite players. Proper workhorse. I would like to see him play CM for a few games though.

 

MONTANO - Injuries have held him back, again. Looked class at LB at the end of last season, but hasn't quite hit those heights again this season. Let's hope he gets properly fit and back to showing what we know that he can do. I would prefer him to play on the left side of midfield, where possible, but lack of LBs means this probably won't happen unless we go three at the back.

 

KAY - Did a job for us last season, and it was needed. Now he's only a backup, which is exactly what I expected.

 

PUGH, TONGE - They are what they are. With the options that we now have, neither can be seriously expected to start or be utilised in the league, barring injuries of catastrophic proportions. Appear to be assisting with coachin, though, which is only to be commended. Their experience in this regard should make a good fit.

 

I've not bothered with those out on loan. Have high hopes for Benns though.

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Can't disagree with any of that really.

 

And it's worth noting that like him or love him, Dodds has a massive influence in the dressing room and it's no doubt a better place with him there than without.

 

Brown, Legge, Montano and Pope are excellent players at this level. And in Smith, Clark, Hannant, Oyeleke and Whitfield have some very good young players that can only get better.

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Also, one positive with Worrall is that although he's clearly lacking form an confidence, we could never imagined not actually playing him when fit last season such was our lack of options.

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The team are now getting used to playing together and it shows. Just hope injuries don't affect the team selections of the last two weeks.

 

Just hope we don't loose players in the January window, as there are some good performances coming out of the players now.

 

You never know, could next year be the one we get to beat sjoke in the next league?

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Agree with most of that. I just hope the spine of the team stays fit. If so it will be good competition for places when Gibbons, Montano and Worrall are fit.

 

With regards to Worrall I've never been convinced he's actually a winger(which is where he seems to get played)? Whether managers/coaches think he lacks the tackling ability to be a good CM I don't know because I'd have thought he'd be better suited there personally. Then again I sometimes think the same about Hannant and Whitfield, but they both seem to be doing a reasonable job there at least the last 2 games!

Worrall is certainly a positive player and tries to go forward and have a go when he gets the balls and can score a few goals as we know, whether he could play the role Manny plays I don't know, should he miss games through injury for example?

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with so many players coming and going again and players injured or not able to play in pre season it was always going to take time for the team to bed in, but the team are starting to gel and get to know each others games now bringing clark in was a great move, we just need strikers to start scoring now not just pope

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You never know, could next year be the one we get to beat sjoke in the next league?

 

Don't dare breathe it, we just might jinx it. The very thought of it is enough to spur us on all season. They would hate it and we would love it, particularly Aspo :smile:!

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Clarke I think will go back to Villa and end up being a Championship regular. Let's make the best use of him while we've got him.

 

When he signed he had loads of Villa fans wishing him luck and looking foreword to his return. He’s clearly rated by Villa and looks destined to return.

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It’s been a steady start. Players still getting used to each other, improvement from last season already. There’s a mistake in most of these lads but a decent willingness to press and get the ball back. I predict a dip when we play the top teams followed by the usual Aspin Out stuff but by the turn of the year we’ll be half way up with play offs in sight which is ok for now.

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Clarke I think will go back to Villa and end up being a Championship regular. Let's make the best use of him while we've got him.
I know someone who works in a factory full of Villa fans and apparently he's very highly rated by them and they see him as one of their future first teamers. I'd love them to go back up to the Prem and offload Clark to us, he won't be leaving them while they're in the Championship. When it emerged Rudgey had scouted him I wasn't in the least surprised, he's got all the hallmarks of a John Rudge player.

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Think it’s now been an ok start. I still think that the play-offs is the minimum for this year with the squad we have though.

 

And I agree that Manny needs a two year contract now, ecause I can see him going in January otherwise.

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Vale have a better squad than last season and have the players to beat anyone in this league on our day, especially at home. The next 10 or so games will tell whether we have the consistency to reach the play-offs.

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