Masterstroke and no hint of new manager – Port Vale fans’ view



Port Vale entertain old rivals Walsall this weekend – and we’ve asked Mark Walton and Ian Woodward to take a look at issues on and off the pitch for our fans’ panel.

So, over to Mark and Ian who take a look at the manager, the team and whether football should be continuing at all.

WHAT’S YOUR TEAM?

Mark Walton: “If Worrall is fit he plays but it sounds like it’s too soon for Gibbons. I’d give Guthrie a start and move Rodney wide where he looked far better against FGR. Brown, Mills, Smith, Brisley, Fitzpatrick, Joyce, Conlon, Taylor, Rodney, Guthrie, Worrall/Hurst.”

Ian Woodward: “At long last it’s looking like James Gibbons will be back in contention and although I’d probably expect to see him on the bench, he’d be in my starting eleven this weekend.

“With Cristian Montano still unavailable, I’ve gone for Adam Crookes at left back although I do wonder whether the time’s come to give Ryan Campbell-Gordon his opportunity. My team therefore is:

“Brown, Gibbons, Brisley, Smith, Crookes, Taylor, Joyce, Conlon, Amoo, Rodney, Worrall.”

WHAT’S YOUR PREDICTION?

Mark Walton : “Having won four on the spin in December, including that 4-3 against us, the Saddlers haven’t claimed three points this year. Let’s keep it that way by snatching a 1-0 revenge win against our old foes from down the M6, Taylor with his first since returning.”

Ian Woodward : “I predicted 2-2 when we played them a little over a month ago and we all know how that ended up!

“I realise of course that Walsall have taken the spoils on their past three visits to Vale Park scoring the grand total of seven goals to our zero, and we’ve only managed two victories from our past fourteen league games, but a home win against this old enemy is well overdue, so I’ll say Vale 2 Walsall 1.”

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Mark Walton: “ With no hint of a new manager coming in it looks like the club are leaving Pugh in charge for the remainder of the season.

“That wouldn’t be my choice but probably reflects the impact of an unprecedented campaign deformed, de-funded and deprived of fans by the pandemic and lockdown.

“And Pugh – good to hear he’s recovering from Covid – has made a steady start with the added bonus of signing Taylor and Guthrie. He won the game we really needed to win, and played 4-4-2 at that, then picked up a very creditable point away at a team vying for the top.

“His masterstroke has been to make Tom Conlon captain; the midfielder looks a foot taller since he was given the armband. He’s my player of the season.

“I really would have liked us to have had more of a go at the EFL Trophy, even in its current unloved format. Imagine the boost to our morale and finances of a long-overdue first appearance at the new Wembley?

“On April 22 it will be 20 years since we beat Brentford in Cardiff and it saddens me that we haven’t had a sniff of repeating that great day since.

“Far more saddening this week was the news that John Jeffers had died aged just 52.

“The cult hero left winger came into the side that got promoted in 1989 and more than held its own for a couple of seasons in the old Second Division. Rudge’s switch to wing backs after relegation in 1992 did him no favours but he was back in the team for another promotion in 1994. That was basically his swansong and the upstart who took his place later that year was some lad called Guppy.

“For those who never saw him on the pitch, Rob Mozelewski’s reference to “his reckless disregard for keeping it simple”, in a 2013 article revisited by The Sentinel this week, absolutely nailed Jinkin’ John. ‘If even he doesn’t know what he’s doing, what chance have the opposition got?’ was basically written for John.

“He could be literally unplayable, in both senses of the word. And going by the tributes from his old teammates he was a good egg too.

“We’ll be lucky to see his like again – these days he would be told to play on the right and cut inside. Cheers, JJ.”

Ian Woodward: “ So far this season I’ve probably watched the Vale around a dozen times on the match streaming service and despite its limitations and at times, technical difficulties, it has to an extent provided a welcome relief and distraction at this difficult time.

“However, with so many restrictions being placed upon us all during the pandemic and with our hospitals under continuous and significant pressure, I remain uncomfortable with the fact that Premier League and EFL football is still being allowed to continue as well as the FA Cup competition.

“For several weeks now, matches are being postponed due to players either testing positive for covid-19 or having to self isolate as clubs throughout the leagues have seemingly struggled to contain outbreaks of the virus.

“I felt it was rather ironic that our national press gave a great deal of coverage to the Chorley players and staff celebrating their FA Cup victory over a Derby County side devoid of its entire first team squad and U23 players thanks to the virus, all celebrations duly carried out within the close confines of the home dressing room.

“Self-distancing was seemingly ignored and absolutely no thought was given as to how it would come across to the viewing public many of whom are doing their level best to comply with the rules and being prevented from even meeting their nearest and dearest in their back garden.

“Some of the goal celebrations I’ve seen on the TV haven’t been a good look either, with instances of numerous players piling on top of each other, Rochdale’s late leveller against Crewe being a prime example.

“I noticed that Devante Rodney and the Vale players kept their celebrations fairly muted following the recent EFL directive, after he netted that lovely goal at Forest Green last weekend.

“Unfortunately elsewhere, it would appear that some players chose to celebrate as normal.”





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