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Depth in the squad.


Playa Amodores

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We do have quite a big squad that I’m not sure is financially sustainable. This season has been a bonus and we can now concentrate on the league. I know this is often said as sour grapes but it’s fact as we do have something to play for. 
I’m open to correction but apart from the first 11, Manny when fit and Atkinson for a cameo role. I’m not including Archer/Browne as I haven’t seen enough of them. Is there anyone that we should say, ‘Yes, we need to keep them for next season’.

Please feel free to give me your opinion. Thank you 

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3 minutes ago, Nofinikea said:

I dont know why we dont drop an U23 side into the SCSL and see if we can progress to NWCL or even Norther Premier over a few years.  Would be a great way to give young players a real taste of mens football, trial others and help those coming back from injury to get game time.

Just a thought.

Back to the future.

I remember Vale reserves in the Cheshire League in the 60's.

Why not?

Just wonder whether there are shades of Premier League kids teams playing in Leagues 1/2 and how it would be received.

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We have had this issue for years . In my mind ( probably wrong ) since Mickey Adams left. 

Page used to have huge squads filled with loanees who never played, ditto Bruno and Brown. Aspin also liked a big squad. 

I've read different managers saying quality over quantity but it rarely happens. It's a really difficult balancing act. If we are realistic the majority of League 2 back up players are going to be average . This will apply to most clubs not just ours. The transfer windows and change to the loan system have been detrimental to the lower league clubs.

Are we just being a bit knee jerk after a poor defeat ?

In the main a bench with Browne, Conlon, Atkinson, Bennett has looked far superior to one with Tonge, Elliott, Turner etc .

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We are currently a league 2 team and for years we had squads too large. A look on the back on a Smurfwaite era Vale programme, even last season, highlighted a squad bigger than some Premier League teams, minus quality. 
 

The squad seems the right size. I still feel we need a couple of midfielders and certainly a left back or two for sufficient depth but that should be at the expense of cutting loose those who may never play. 

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I think we can count ourselves fortunate that Brown, Legge and Smith have been ever present in the league this season because we don’t have a lot of depth in those positions but it hasn’t been a problem (yet).

Last night wasn’t exactly the sort of game where somebody could drop in and shine. It was all a very narrow midfield battle and Salford did their best to keep it scrappy with lots of niggly fouls that the ref should have been wise to.

Our first eleven picks itself at the minute. Outside of that, the squad players are either not quite up to it, or like Cullen in a 4-1-4-1 they’re just square pegs.

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As mentioned on other threads, it's difficult to separate depth/ quality from lack of match practice.

Keeping fit and playing games are very different and it can take several games to get the required sharpness.

It wouldn't matter who we had as back up.

If they don't have match practice they will be off the pace.

I think that is the bigger problem, with a solution of reserve fixtures.

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Our first team has been fairly stable in the last few months, we don't make a great use of subs, so probably unrealistic to make large scale changes and expect everything to come off. 2 or 3   players should slot in and their match fitness would not be such a problem. Unlike Prem clubs we do not have at least  20 odd first team players, but are still dependent on a handful of key players to be effective.  Hopefully by the start of next season we will have 15/18 players we can rely on to achieve consistent performances. Hangovers from big cup games sometimes happen also. January will be a key month to keep our season going.

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I dont think depth is that bad but taking 5 or 6 key players out of any team at this level is going to vastly deteriorate the levels of performance.

Bennett, Cullen, Browne, Conlon, Atkinson and Brisley are all capable enough of coming in and doing a job, playing 6 of them at the same time in place of 6 of our best players won't be as good though but as mentioned we need to find a way to keep these lads match ready. That can not be under estimated and in most of the Leasing games we've generally started disjointed.

After the injury crisis against Plymouth we were all lauding up the squad depth so its swings and roundabouts.

 

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Even Reserve Leagues don't schedule games around this time of year due to poor weather, likelihood of postponements, also clubs needing to use their squads during the busy Christmas/New Year peiod.

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8 hours ago, SFBT said:

As mentioned on other threads, it's difficult to separate depth/ quality from lack of match practice.

Keeping fit and playing games are very different and it can take several games to get the required sharpness.

It wouldn't matter who we had as back up.

If they don't have match practice they will be off the pace.

I think that is the bigger problem, with a solution of reserve fixtures.

The reserve league is Mainly a youth league and the pace of the game is nowhere near league2 standard so I can’t see a reserve game doing squad players any good . We’ve had a reserve team the last 3 seasons when we’ve used the players and look where we finished In the league those three seasons. It didn’t do them any good. 

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2 minutes ago, sandyford_valiant said:

The reserve league is Mainly a youth league and the pace of the game is nowhere near league2 standard so I can’t see a reserve game doing squad players any good . We’ve had a reserve team the last 3 seasons when we’ve used the players and look where we finished In the league those three seasons. It didn’t do them any good. 

What's the answer then?

What we're doing now isn't working, either for the club or the fringe players.

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16 minutes ago, sandyford_valiant said:

The reserve league is Mainly a youth league and the pace of the game is nowhere near league2 standard so I can’t see a reserve game doing squad players any good . We’ve had a reserve team the last 3 seasons when we’ve used the players and look where we finished In the league those three seasons. It didn’t do them any good. 

Surely playing games, any games, is better than sitting on the bench with your match fitness diminishing?

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20 minutes ago, SFBT said:

What's the answer then?

What we're doing now isn't working, either for the club or the fringe players.

Some problems don't have an answer. Post the changes in the loan regulations and increase in the number of substitutes clubs need much bigger squads. 

Askey made a valid point that many reserve games aren't competitive.  Getting younger players out on loan is good. It's what to do with the 8 or 9 players you need to keep around just in case you get an injury. Loan them out and you can't recall for at least a month, half a season if it's a league club. If there was a simple answer all lower league clubs would be doing it.

If you look around clubs at this level we don't have a big squad. Discount first year pros and Pugh and I think we have 25, Macclesfield have 26, Mansfield 31, Newport 34. 

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10 minutes ago, Jacko51 said:

Surely playing games, any games, is better than sitting on the bench with your match fitness diminishing?

It's not really fitness it's the mental sharpness to play at league level and you only really get that from playing at league level. Just turning up and running around for 90 minutes isn't an issue for most modern players. Years ago the likes of Van Der Laan put on a couple of stone in the pub when injured. Modern players spend all year at their fighting weight. The ideal would be for them to play in the conference.

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33 minutes ago, Jacko51 said:

Surely playing games, any games, is better than sitting on the bench with your match fitness diminishing?

You’d think so, that’s if it was a bit sharper standard jean. 

I’m not convinced though, that playing a reserve game once a fortnight against youth team lads is going to get them sharp enough for a first team game. I’ve had a conversation with few coaches at Vale and they’ve basically said the same. Its more a youth league now to give the scholars extra game time. 
 

didnt we win the reserve league last season? We had a strong squad it was virtually all senior pros, but when they played first team we didn’t look any better or sharper. 

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The whole meaningfull structure of reserve team football has been dismantled,  thanks again in large part to the Premiership amassing such huge squads then farming the surplus players out on loan for other clubs to take care of on season long loans. The old Football Combination leagues had great quality because they were proper reserve teams, which  was always sprinkled with a number of first teamers. There was always an emphasis on young players, but they had to mature quickly due to mix of older/hardened professionals. I'm not saying that it was as good as first team football,  but we've all become very aware of u23 and academy teams and the cotton wool culture that it's manifested First team football is now referred to as "mans football" so it should be no surprise that players often find it a struggle to step up to the first team when most of their football playing time has been in the softer environment of u23 level. This is especially highlighted with league 1 and 2 due to the nature of the extra physicality.and where the ultra technical stuff that we witnessed against Man City, will never filter down. 

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We touched on this before but we did used to play in the Cheshire league and Midland league ( I think it was) many moons ago. Maybe 40-46 games a season too. Not dissimilar to the first team. Games were played at Vale Park and it was fairly competitive from memory. I guess the likes of Lye Town, Chorley and Hyde loved playing at a league club's ground and even more liked to beat us! Those days have forever gone but at least the reserves got plenty of games and usually played the same formation as the first team. It seemed to keep them fit and they played a lot.

No doubt there are pros and cons as there are with every system but it doesn't surprise me at all when a player who has only appeared maybe 2-3 times in the first team since August gets thrown in at the deep end and can't perform. It takes 4-5 games to get up to match sharpness and speed, hence a lengthy pre-season every summer. You really can't expect the likes of Brisley, Archer, Evans and so on to come in and set the game alight. 

That's the problem we have. What the solution is I simply don't know because only the regular XI will be fully up to speed if the reserves only play one game a month.

Answers on a postcard to J. Askey, c/o Vale Park, Burslem.

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