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1 hour ago, Jeff. said:

Good evening fellow Valiants,

I hope you are all well. Did you know that on this day in 1985 Australian cricketer David Boon scored his 1st Test century with a 123 versus India at Adelaide. Pretty incredible.

I had no idea he did this and I'm a big Talking Heads fan.

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Thought I’d start this thread so it doesn’t get lost in the match threads. Some of our fan base this season has been an embarrassment, calling for Askey to be sacked. We need to take a step back,

Bollox. If you mean 80/90% of posts, you may be close to the mark, but the vast majority of those posts were made by the same half dozen who pop up vociferously whenever we lose. You've fallen into th

I think that the counter attacking way in which we play is probably more to do with the last few seasons performance rather than the way the manager wants to play. We are not in a mid table existence.

2 hours ago, Jeff. said:

Good evening fellow Valiants,

I hope you are all well. Did you know that on this day in 1985 Australian cricketer David Boon scored his 1st Test century with a 123 versus India at Adelaide. Pretty incredible.

 

 

Not as incredible as his record of having consumed 52 cans of beer on his flight from Sydney to London in 1989.

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It always does my head in this idea we are world beaters trapped in L2. We are L2 with a mid table L2 budget.  And players. And we are - er, mid table L2.  So it goes. Still keep on supporting the lads.  You don't sign up as Vale fan as Glory Hunter. More less misery seeker.

Edited by toyahw
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15 minutes ago, toyahw said:

It always does my head in this idea we are world beaters trapped in L2. We are L2 with a mid table L2 budget.  And players. And we are - er, mid table L2.  So it goes. Still keep on supporting the lads. 

This is a strange view to have, I must say. We regularly have a top 7 attendance (even under Norman when we nearly went down, we were 10th and 9th. 6th under Carol) and most clubs at this level would give anything for regular 4,000+ season ticket sales , with the league average hovering around 2,500 for the last few years (we shifted nearly 4k in a pandemic, with record breaking shirt sales).

We've been at this level for 9 out of the last 31 seasons (29%). This hasn't been our common level since the early 1980s. It's taken some of the worst ownership in EFL history to maroon us here, in both Bratt and Norman. Being in League 2 has been the exception, and not the norm, with us spending more years in the 2nd tier than the 4th since 1986.

No one is arguing we're a big club, but apathetic acceptance of underperformance (did you miss our Chairlady say we'd be finishing higher than 8th this season?) is what holds clubs like ours back. If Accrington, Wimbledon, Burton, Rochdale, and Crewe can compete at higher levels, with lower budgets, why must we grimly accept our stock as bang average basement fodder?

With the revenue we have, after just finishing 8th, we should be competing for top 7. I don't think this is unfair of fans.

You can want more and still support the team. Not exclusive at all. I don't think we have some divine right or that we're not as tinpot as everyone else here, but there are certain inalienable facts that suggest we should be aiming to be competing with the top 7 in this league on a consistent basis.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Joe B said:

This is a strange view to have, I must say. We regularly have a top 7 attendance (even under Norman when we nearly went down, we were 10th and 9th. 6th under Carol) and most clubs at this level would give anything for regular 4,000+ season ticket sales , with the league average hovering around 2,500 for the last few years (we shifted nearly 4k in a pandemic, with record breaking shirt sales).

We've been at this level for 9 out of the last 31 seasons (29%). This hasn't been our common level since the early 1980s. It's taken some of the worst ownership in EFL history to maroon us here, in both Bratt and Norman. Being in League 2 has been the exception, and not the norm, with us spending more years in the 2nd tier than the 4th since 1986.

No one is arguing we're a big club, but apathetic acceptance of underperformance (did you miss our Chairlady say we'd be finishing higher than 8th this season?) is what holds clubs like ours back. If Accrington, Wimbledon, Burton, Rochdale, and Crewe can compete at higher levels, with lower budgets, why must we grimly accept our stock as bang average basement fodder?

With the revenue we have, after just finishing 8th, we should be competing for top 7. I don't think this is unfair of fans.

You can want more and still support the team. Not exclusive at all. I don't think we have some divine right or that we're not as tinpot as everyone else here, but there are certain inalienable facts that suggest we should be aiming to be competing with the top 7 in this league on a consistent basis.

 

 

 

Before any accusations of being apathetic or accepting mediocrity, I'll preface my comment by stating that given the run we had at the start of this calendar year, we would have hoped to be in the play-offs at the end of this season, and to miss out come May 2021 would be a disappointment. Furthermore, a well-run club of our size could reasonably hope to be mid to lower reaches of league 1.  

That being said, I think we need to step back and have a little more perspective on our current situation. We've only been a well-run club for 18 months, after a couple of decades of mismanagement and overall decline. The swift upward trajectory (on and off the pitch) of the first 9 months of the Shanahans' reign increased our expectations, (dare I say even created optimism!), but that trajectory was going to be tricky to maintain in any circumstance, let alone in the face of a pandemic that throws everything up in the air a bit. I'd also argue that to use 1986 as a cut-off for historical performance and thus what we should expect also feels a little misleading; the 20 years after that are an outlier for us in terms of playing one or two leagues above the bottom professional tier on a sustained basis. We punched above our weight then at least as much as we're punching below it now.

As far as this season goes, we're just coming out of a bad run where a combination of poor performances, individual mistakes (including the sendings off), poor finishing and a genuine degree of bad luck in some games has seen us lose several on the bounce, each by a solitary goal. The fact that we've had such a run, have had several players out injured, several more not hitting top form (including a couple of new signings with proven track records at our level who could still come good in 2021) and yet we're still just 4 points off the play-offs should give us pause for thought (if not cautious optimism). We're really not far off; yes there's things we can do better, but there's no need to be reaching for the panic button right now. 

If we're still mid-table (or worse) at the end of the season, then definitely re-evaluate our direction, but for now let's just stay calm, try to stay positive (however difficult that might be some Saturday/Tuesday evenings!) and keep the faith. UTV.

Edited by Clayts
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37 minutes ago, Clayts said:

Before any accusations of being apathetic or accepting mediocrity, I'll preface my comment by stating that given the run we had at the start of this calendar year, we would have hoped to be in the play-offs at the end of this season, and to miss out come May 2021 would be a disappointment. Furthermore, a well-run club of our size could reasonably hope to be mid to lower reaches of league 1.  

That being said, I think we need to step back and have a little more perspective on our current situation. We've only been a well-run club for 18 months, after a couple of decades of mismanagement and overall decline. The swift upward trajectory (on and off the pitch) of the first 9 months of the Shanahans' reign increased our expectations, (dare I say even created optimism!), but that trajectory was going to be tricky to maintain in any circumstance, let alone in the face of a pandemic that throws everything up in the air a bit. I'd also argue that to use 1986 as a cut-off for historical performance and thus what we should expect also feels a little misleading; the 20 years after that are an outlier for us in terms of playing one or two leagues above the bottom professional tier on a sustained basis. We punched above our weight then at least as much as we're punching below it now.

As far as this season goes, we're just coming out of a bad run where a combination of poor performances, individual mistakes (including the sendings off), poor finishing and a genuine degree of bad luck in some games has seen us lose several on the bounce, each by a solitary goal. The fact that we've had such a run, have had several players out injured, several more not hitting top form (including a couple of new signings with proven track records at our level who could still come good in 2021) and yet we're still just 4 points off the play-offs should give us pause for thought (if not cautious optimism). We're really not far off; yes there's things we can do better, but there's no need to be reaching for the panic button right now. 

If we're still mid-table (or worse) at the end of the season, then definitely re-evaluate our direction, but for now let's just stay calm, try to stay positive (however difficult that might be some Saturday/Tuesday evenings!) and keep the faith. UTV.

A very well articulated post.

My post was in no way suggesting that things aren't good enough currently; just that Port Vale should be looking to compete for the top 7 in this league in most years we are here.

I didn't choose 1986 as 'we should expect 2nd tier', but merely as an example that, over an extended period of time, finishing mid table tier 4 is not the norm for us, and in my view shouldn't be as welcomed as it was for the previous poster (mid-table budget = mid-table finish, and this is fine).

We aren't far off but the issues for me don't seem to have been solved for over a year now. I hope we can iron out the few flaws we possess, but the issues which are holding us back now (finishing, seeing out leads, recruitment) have bedevilled us for 18 months, and are the sort of issues which are going to keep us marooned here for the foreseeable.

My overall point that we shouldn't get to the end of the season, having hypothetically finished mid-table, and be satisfied with that. Carol certainly won't be, despite the argument of the poster I was responding to.

It was more a critique of expectations, more than a critique of current assessment of performance.

Edited by Joe B
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Recruitment is poor because the budget is poor do we really think Whitehead would of been signed if we could afford a Sarcevic. Crowd size means nothing where budgets are concerned Mansfield blew us out the water on the Maynard deal. As for money generated by large crowds for the division we also must spend more on maintaining our larger than most stadium. Promotion should be the aim every season no matter what or what is the point and this season is disappointing for us all but we are building something and it's going to take time and in the world of click & collect and next day delivery we are not used to waiting for things

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6 hours ago, Joe B said:

A very well articulated post.

My post was in no way suggesting that things aren't good enough currently; just that Port Vale should be looking to compete for the top 7 in this league in most years we are here.

I didn't choose 1986 as 'we should expect 2nd tier', but merely as an example that, over an extended period of time, finishing mid table tier 4 is not the norm for us, and in my view shouldn't be as welcomed as it was for the previous poster (mid-table budget = mid-table finish, and this is fine).

We aren't far off but the issues for me don't seem to have been solved for over a year now. I hope we can iron out the few flaws we possess, but the issues which are holding us back now (finishing, seeing out leads, recruitment) have bedevilled us for 18 months, and are the sort of issues which are going to keep us marooned here for the foreseeable.

My overall point that we shouldn't get to the end of the season, having hypothetically finished mid-table, and be satisfied with that. Carol certainly won't be, despite the argument of the poster I was responding to.

It was more a critique of expectations, more than a critique of current assessment of performance.

Fair play, can't argue with much of that, although I would say that recruitment is far better, and indeed our business in the summer was actually pretty decent. Mills and Fitzpatrick are solid full-backs and a damn sight better than our previous back-up. Not perfect, but without checking (so I stand to be corrected on this!) our record with them in the team seems to be a fair bit better than without them; both featured at the start when we were doing well, and in the last couple of league games, which have also been a lot better. Rodney is also a great signing, definitely still raw and doesn't always pick the right option, but getting better and has all the right attributes, I like him a lot. So that's at least a 50% hit rate, which is better than most other seasons recently. The others still have the chance to come good, and Theo and McKirdy have obviously suffered a little from coming in later and needing to get up to speed, but even if they don't work out I don't think you can say they were objectively bad signings given their records last year at this level. They may not come good, and with hindsight we may end up saying they weren't right for us, but at the end of the day we had both a transfer for a striker fall through and a winger leave unexpectedly at the last minute, so to get deals done at the eleventh hour for two players with 20 goals between them last season, to add to a squad that we all said was lacking goals doesn't feel like bad recruitment to me. 

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A big concern for next season, should we remain in this division, is the number of ST’s sold for 2021/22. A lower number sold, will give a smaller budget. The longer fans are not attending will result in them getting out of the habit. Results are not helping this situation and, sadly, I can’t see a push for promotion this season. I hope I am wrong of course, but after nearly 60 years of supporting the team, you will excuse me for being a tad negative. 

Edited by sinnott2spinnit
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4 hours ago, dishydave said:

Recruitment is poor because the budget is poor do we really think Whitehead would of been signed if we could afford a Sarcevic. Crowd size means nothing where budgets are concerned Mansfield blew us out the water on the Maynard deal. As for money generated by large crowds for the division we also must spend more on maintaining our larger than most stadium. Promotion should be the aim every season no matter what or what is the point and this season is disappointing for us all but we are building something and it's going to take time and in the world of click & collect and next day delivery we are not used to waiting for things

Nothing to do with the budget. You can easily sign good players with a poor budget. 
1. we don’t have a poor budget. 
2. with our decent budget we have signed some awful players.

3. Just because mansfield blew us out the water didn’t mean we didn’t offer a very good deal - the money was there. 
 

whitehead and the others were signed clearly because the manager thought they were good enough regardless of budget. But to say you can’t sign decent players on a small budget at this level is a load of rubbish. The poor recruitment is due to askey constantly going back to Macclesfield as that seems to be as far as his scouting pool goes. Nothing to do with the budget. 
 

to your last point. I personally don’t see what we’re building. Off the pitch yes. But not on it. 

Edited by valiant_593
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9 hours ago, valiant_593 said:

You can easily sign good players with a poor budget

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this simply isn't true.

Of course it's possible, (examples given earlier of teams like Accrington, Wycombe, Burton, etc.), but certainly not easy, as you'd need to have noticed said good players that would fit into your system that no other club with more available budget than you (or a more convenient location to the player than you) had spotted, which in this day and age of information availability is increasingly unlikely. If it was so easy, everyone would be able to do it, which in turn makes it a bit of a paradox since everyone would then be able to sign 'good' players, making everyone's 'good' squads the norm, thus losing any advantage.

And we haven't signed 'awful' players. Differences between teams at this level are very small, which is why anyone can beat anyone else on the day, why most games turn on the odd mistake, piece of skill, bad refereeing decision, couple of below-par/worldie performances here and there. If these players were awful, it'd be very apparent very quickly and if we played more than one of them at a time we'd be getting humped every week. But 50% of our 'awful' outfield summer signings played in our last two league games. And McKirdy and Theo, having each scored in double figures last season at our level aren't suddenly 'awful' players, they're just players who haven't shown their best form for us (yet?).

As for what we're building, I thought what we were trying to build on the pitch was a bit of stability and consistency, with a few new faces to steadily improve/replace as needed each year, which seemed to be what everyone here was crying out for. I certainly didn't see too much dissension when we kept the core of last year's squad (a squad which we generally felt would have reached the play-offs come May). We've then replaced the players that moved on with the kind of players we were asking for - good back-up keeper, (nobody arguing about that one, surely?), specialist left back as back-up for Monty, (better than Evans and better than using Crookes there), cover at right back for Gibbo (good job considering he's been injured basically all season), two strikers to replace Archer and Bennett (one proven goalscorer at this level, one good young prospect), someone who can provide something different in an attacking midfield/no 10 role, unlock a tight defence and score goals (ok, McKirdy hasn't done it yet, but that's what he was signed for and did for Carlisle), and an additional CM (Whitehead, who is the one that I would say does look like a poor signing).

It obviously hasn't all panned out perfectly thus far, it rarely does, but that's not to say that there isn't an inherent logic behind most of the decisions, so it's hard to conclude that the business we've done is 'awful'.

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2 hours ago, Clayts said:

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this simply isn't true.

Of course it's possible, (examples given earlier of teams like Accrington, Wycombe, Burton, etc.), but certainly not easy, as you'd need to have noticed said good players that would fit into your system that no other club with more available budget than you (or a more convenient location to the player than you) had spotted, which in this day and age of information availability is increasingly unlikely. If it was so easy, everyone would be able to do it, which in turn makes it a bit of a paradox since everyone would then be able to sign 'good' players, making everyone's 'good' squads the norm, thus losing any advantage.

And we haven't signed 'awful' players. Differences between teams at this level are very small, which is why anyone can beat anyone else on the day, why most games turn on the odd mistake, piece of skill, bad refereeing decision, couple of below-par/worldie performances here and there. If these players were awful, it'd be very apparent very quickly and if we played more than one of them at a time we'd be getting humped every week. But 50% of our 'awful' outfield summer signings played in our last two league games. And McKirdy and Theo, having each scored in double figures last season at our level aren't suddenly 'awful' players, they're just players who haven't shown their best form for us (yet?).

As for what we're building, I thought what we were trying to build on the pitch was a bit of stability and consistency, with a few new faces to steadily improve/replace as needed each year, which seemed to be what everyone here was crying out for. I certainly didn't see too much dissension when we kept the core of last year's squad (a squad which we generally felt would have reached the play-offs come May). We've then replaced the players that moved on with the kind of players we were asking for - good back-up keeper, (nobody arguing about that one, surely?), specialist left back as back-up for Monty, (better than Evans and better than using Crookes there), cover at right back for Gibbo (good job considering he's been injured basically all season), two strikers to replace Archer and Bennett (one proven goalscorer at this level, one good young prospect), someone who can provide something different in an attacking midfield/no 10 role, unlock a tight defence and score goals (ok, McKirdy hasn't done it yet, but that's what he was signed for and did for Carlisle), and an additional CM (Whitehead, who is the one that I would say does look like a poor signing).

It obviously hasn't all panned out perfectly thus far, it rarely does, but that's not to say that there isn't an inherent logic behind most of the decisions, so it's hard to conclude that the business we've done is 'awful'.

I think it's hard to argue the signings have been 'good' though, even if we can't label them awful.

How many have made the first 11 better on a consistent basis? Rodney is beginning to shine but it largely stops there. Our best 11 still doesn't feature many of them. There hasn't been a concrete improvement on the first 11 consistently. Some provide less of a downgrade on the regular starter than we've had previously (as you say Mills is better than Evans), but is that really enough? Our backups are not as bad as previous backups?

Many on here questioned the Robinson signing over the summer, and unfortunately he just doesn't look suited to the system. Same for McKirdy. It's all well and good them being good elsewhere but if they don't fit our style, it has to go down as a poor signing. Why sign them if they can't fulfil the role asked of them/can't handle being squad players?

Fitzpatrick and Mills are ok. Not much more. They're what we expected; mid-table League 2 player who ideally don't start the majority of your games if you want to get promoted. I don't dislike either of them, but do they regularly start for Newport, Forest Green, or Exeter? I doubt it.

Whitehead is not up to standard at all.

I agree that signings players can be difficult, but if John Coleman can keep pulling rabbits out of the hat with a budget much lower than ours on an annual basis, what excuses do we have for failing to improve the first 11 for 2 years now? If Michael Flynn can keep his squad fresh, if Michael Duff can have Cheltenham consistently signing good players, then what is our excuse? We simply have to get better. It may be hard, but winning promotion is hard. 

I have made the point before that, fully fit, the only Askey signing that makes it into our best 11 is Amoo, and now maybe possibly Rodney. That's not ideal. Our midfield 3 is still Joyce, Conlon, and Manny, which were the trio Askey used to get us out of danger two years ago. Joyce got suspended and the club imploded. Manny hasn't played much at all in the last 12 months. Its borderline negligence of the midfield positions to still be reliant on these three players, as good as they are, with one of them 34, one of them plagued with inconsistency, and the third only now stringing together more than 90 minutes at at a time. What happens if Manny's hamstring goes again?

It wasn't a bad idea to sign 'squad players' but that would have been fine if we had a squad bang in their prime; we don't. Our key players are either injury prone (Manny, Amoo) or approaching the end of their careers (Brown, Legge, and Joyce). To expect last season's excellent run over February and March to continue on a consistent basis simply contradicts the nature of League 2 football, where inconsistency dominates. If we'd finished 8th but had been on a winless run of 8, we would have made more 'first 11' signings, I am confident. We got sucked into the view of 'this form would have continued for another 6 weeks', when in reality we may have just been on a hot streak. 

I'm sorry; you'll have to do a lot more to convince me that Askey's signings over the last 2 years have been anything over than, at best, substandard. 

Edited by Joe B
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1 hour ago, Joe B said:

I think it's hard to argue the signings have been 'good' though, even if we can't label them awful.

How many have made the first 11 better on a consistent basis? Rodney is beginning to shine but it largely stops there. Our best 11 still doesn't feature many of them. There hasn't been a concrete improvement on the first 11 consistently. Some provide less of a downgrade on the regular starter than we've had previously (as you say Mills is better than Evans), but is that really enough? Our backups are not as bad as previous backups?

Many on here questioned the Robinson signing over the summer, and unfortunately he just doesn't look suited to the system. Same for McKirdy. It's all well and good them being good elsewhere but if they don't fit our style, it has to go down as a poor signing. Why sign them if they can't fulfil the role asked of them/can't handle being squad players?

Fitzpatrick and Mills are ok. Not much more. They're what we expected; mid-table League 2 player who ideally don't start the majority of your games if you want to get promoted. I don't dislike either of them, but do they regularly start for Newport, Forest Green, or Exeter? I doubt it.

Whitehead is not up to standard at all.

I agree that signings players can be difficult, but if John Coleman can keep pulling rabbits out of the hat with a budget much lower than ours on an annual basis, what excuses do we have for failing to improve the first 11 for 2 years now? If Michael Flynn can keep his squad fresh, if Michael Duff can have Cheltenham consistently signing good players, then what is our excuse? We simply have to get better. It may be hard, but winning promotion is hard. 

I have made the point before that, fully fit, the only Askey signing that makes it into our best 11 is Amoo, and now maybe possibly Rodney. That's not ideal. Our midfield 3 is still Joyce, Conlon, and Manny, which were the trio Askey used to get us out of danger two years ago. Joyce got suspended and the club imploded. Manny hasn't played much at all in the last 12 months. Its borderline negligence of the midfield positions to still be reliant on these three players, as good as they are, with one of them 34, one of them plagued with inconsistency, and the third only now stringing together more than 90 minutes at at a time. What happens if Manny's hamstring goes again?

It wasn't a bad idea to sign 'squad players' but that would have been fine if we had a squad bang in their prime; we don't. Our key players are either injury prone (Manny, Amoo) or approaching the end of their careers (Brown, Legge, and Joyce). To expect last season's excellent run over February and March to continue on a consistent basis simply contradicts the nature of League 2 football, where inconsistency dominates. If we'd finished 8th but had been on a winless run of 8, we would have made more 'first 11' signings, I am confident. We got sucked into the view of 'this form would have continued for another 6 weeks', when in reality we may have just been on a hot streak. 

I'm sorry; you'll have to do a lot more to convince me that Askey's signings over the last 2 years have been, at best, substandard. 

I'm not saying that signings over the course of Askey's two years have been great, they haven't, but the question was about areas that hadn't been addressed, and I would argue that signings this summer are significantly better and more targeted than in the previous several (maybe even dozen?) transfer windows. In the late Page era, then under Bruno, Brown, Aspo, and at the start of Askey's reign, recruitment was far more haphazard, revolving-door, generally based on just getting numbers in, so I think it's fair to say we are showing genuine improvement in that area. Again, it's not been perfect or on a par with those teams you mention, and I completely agree that we should strive to recruit as well as Accrington, Cheltenham and the like, but by the same token we can't expect to do as well as these exceptions, certainly not straight away after what we've had in previous years, and have to acknowledge that whilst there is work to do, we are moving in the right direction. 

Our squad last year was good enough for 8th over the course of 30-odd games; obviously I wasn't expecting us to continue the unbeaten run of Jan/Feb ad infinitum, but no reason to suspect it wouldn't be good enough as the core of a play-off team, so no point going overboard with changes. A good back-up GK and cover at full-back were crucial positions that we've sorted. I do completely agree with you that CM is the area where we continue to be exposed, particularly defensive midfield cover for Joyce, which I thought was the one key area we didn't address over the summer; a big, dominant, imposing DM is a key signing in Jan/next summer. Whitehead should be providing cover/competition for Manny and Conlon along with Burgess and Worrall, but sadly not, so again we need one more in Jan/summer. 

I thought Theo should (operative word) be a good fit for the striker role (strong, mobile, scores poacher's goals), certainly seemed to be the second best option available after we didn't get Maynard, and whilst McKirdy might not be right for our 'plan A' high-pressing 4-3-3, he is precisely there for the 'plan B' we said we lacked, when we do need to change shape. I would still like to see him tried in a reconfigured front three, where rather than one central striker and two out wide, if the game is tight we push the full-backs (especially if Monty at LB) slightly further forward and play McKirdy as a no 10 behind Rodney and Cullen (who sadly hasn't kept up his early-2020 form, which is one reason we've looked more blunt at times). Don't know if that would work, but all I'm saying is he has something about him and could come good if/when we find a way to deploy him appropriately. 

In any case I'm of the mind that unless a player is a completely off-the-wall kind of signing, (or a complete tit), it's impossible to know for sure how a player will fit until you sign them. Some just don't work out, but I think it's too simplistic in many cases, (including the two above), to say that they are necessarily bad signings. Maybe agree to disagree on this one! 🙂

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3 hours ago, Clayts said:

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this simply isn't true.

Of course it's possible, (examples given earlier of teams like Accrington, Wycombe, Burton, etc.), but certainly not easy, as you'd need to have noticed said good players that would fit into your system that no other club with more available budget than you (or a more convenient location to the player than you) had spotted, which in this day and age of information availability is increasingly unlikely. If it was so easy, everyone would be able to do it, which in turn makes it a bit of a paradox since everyone would then be able to sign 'good' players, making everyone's 'good' squads the norm, thus losing any advantage.

And we haven't signed 'awful' players. Differences between teams at this level are very small, which is why anyone can beat anyone else on the day, why most games turn on the odd mistake, piece of skill, bad refereeing decision, couple of below-par/worldie performances here and there. If these players were awful, it'd be very apparent very quickly and if we played more than one of them at a time we'd be getting humped every week. But 50% of our 'awful' outfield summer signings played in our last two league games. And McKirdy and Theo, having each scored in double figures last season at our level aren't suddenly 'awful' players, they're just players who haven't shown their best form for us (yet?).

As for what we're building, I thought what we were trying to build on the pitch was a bit of stability and consistency, with a few new faces to steadily improve/replace as needed each year, which seemed to be what everyone here was crying out for. I certainly didn't see too much dissension when we kept the core of last year's squad (a squad which we generally felt would have reached the play-offs come May). We've then replaced the players that moved on with the kind of players we were asking for - good back-up keeper, (nobody arguing about that one, surely?), specialist left back as back-up for Monty, (better than Evans and better than using Crookes there), cover at right back for Gibbo (good job considering he's been injured basically all season), two strikers to replace Archer and Bennett (one proven goalscorer at this level, one good young prospect), someone who can provide something different in an attacking midfield/no 10 role, unlock a tight defence and score goals (ok, McKirdy hasn't done it yet, but that's what he was signed for and did for Carlisle), and an additional CM (Whitehead, who is the one that I would say does look like a poor signing).

It obviously hasn't all panned out perfectly thus far, it rarely does, but that's not to say that there isn't an inherent logic behind most of the decisions, so it's hard to conclude that the business we've done is 'awful'.

Of course you can sign players with a low budget. We have done on many many occasions and so have most sides. It’s more about actual scouting and not filling the squad with squad players that aren’t up to it. Completely disagree with the view that you need a big budget to sign decent players. 
 

re ‘awful signings’. Yes I think the majority of askeys signings have been awful. Not average. You mention Robinson, he was as bad a player I’ve seen in his first spell, only had 1/2 decent seasons in his career. So personally think that was a really poor signing

whithead, Lloyd, Evans, Kennedy, Robinson are / were awful signings. Potentially you can add mckirdy into that and I wouldn’t say players such as mills are any better than what we already had. 

understand your point on stability. However have we actually signed anyone this season that has actually improved what we had last season? Rodney potentially other than that no. We’ve simply swapped squad players for squad players and lost jake Taylor. Re keeping last years squad. I think that made sense, it’s a steady squad that needs a couple of first team players, however we didn’t sign them. You mention mills and Fitzpatrick who are fine as cover, but we didn’t sign anyone who has actually improved the side from last year. Add to that another season on the likes of legge, Joyce, brown pope I think we’re weaker 

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40 minutes ago, Clayts said:

I'm not saying that signings over the course of Askey's two years have been great, they haven't, but the question was about areas that hadn't been addressed, and I would argue that signings this summer are significantly better and more targeted than in the previous several (maybe even dozen?) transfer windows. In the late Page era, then under Bruno, Brown, Aspo, and at the start of Askey's reign, recruitment was far more haphazard, revolving-door, generally based on just getting numbers in, so I think it's fair to say we are showing genuine improvement in that area. Again, it's not been perfect or on a par with those teams you mention, and I completely agree that we should strive to recruit as well as Accrington, Cheltenham and the like, but by the same token we can't expect to do as well as these exceptions, certainly not straight away after what we've had in previous years, and have to acknowledge that whilst there is work to do, we are moving in the right direction. 

Our squad last year was good enough for 8th over the course of 30-odd games; obviously I wasn't expecting us to continue the unbeaten run of Jan/Feb ad infinitum, but no reason to suspect it wouldn't be good enough as the core of a play-off team, so no point going overboard with changes. A good back-up GK and cover at full-back were crucial positions that we've sorted. I do completely agree with you that CM is the area where we continue to be exposed, particularly defensive midfield cover for Joyce, which I thought was the one key area we didn't address over the summer; a big, dominant, imposing DM is a key signing in Jan/next summer. Whitehead should be providing cover/competition for Manny and Conlon along with Burgess and Worrall, but sadly not, so again we need one more in Jan/summer. 

I thought Theo should (operative word) be a good fit for the striker role (strong, mobile, scores poacher's goals), certainly seemed to be the second best option available after we didn't get Maynard, and whilst McKirdy might not be right for our 'plan A' high-pressing 4-3-3, he is precisely there for the 'plan B' we said we lacked, when we do need to change shape. I would still like to see him tried in a reconfigured front three, where rather than one central striker and two out wide, if the game is tight we push the full-backs (especially if Monty at LB) slightly further forward and play McKirdy as a no 10 behind Rodney and Cullen (who sadly hasn't kept up his early-2020 form, which is one reason we've looked more blunt at times). Don't know if that would work, but all I'm saying is he has something about him and could come good if/when we find a way to deploy him appropriately. 

In any case I'm of the mind that unless a player is a completely off-the-wall kind of signing, (or a complete tit), it's impossible to know for sure how a player will fit until you sign them. Some just don't work out, but I think it's too simplistic in many cases, (including the two above), to say that they are necessarily bad signings. Maybe agree to disagree on this one! 🙂

All fair arguments, and I enjoy the back and forth on this. 

I'll summarise my overarching view that I don't believe Askey has signed enough players in the 22 months he has been in charge that have *consistently* improved our first 11, relative to what he inherited.

There are several extenuating factors; the messy state of the club when he arrived, the restrictions of COVID, being out-competed for names such as Maynard.

However, if he wants to take us up, as the owners expect, he needs to improve in this measure. So far, I haven't seen enough evidence that he can recruit players to assemble a top 3 squad. I think it's important to remember that whilst top 7 was the aim this year, top 3 was definitely the goal by the end of next season. We need a promotion winning squad.

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It would be interesting to know more about the scouting network at the club because other teams seem to have far better recruitment especially from non league or higher league reserves. Crawley find an absolute belter every year and with Manchester being so close we should expect to be picking up ex City & United players that may make the grade. I really do feel that we need a development squad to facilitate these kind of players to try and push them on towards lower league football

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