Victory over Grimsby, defeat at Sunderland, the arrival of Jake Taylor and an injury to record goalscorer Tom Pope have featured in a busy week for he Vale. Over to our fans panel of Phil Sherwin and Paul Dixon, both from Burslem, and Andrew Blakemore, from Denford.
WHAT’S YOUR TEAM?
Phil Sherwin: “Tom Pope is obviously injured and Alex Hurst may be, whilst Legge is suspended so I would go with the following. Hopefully James Gibbons will be available soon.
Brown, Mills, Smith, Brisley, Fitzpatrick, Joyce, Conlon, Taylor, Amoo, Rodney, Worrall
Paul Dixon: Brown, Mills, Brisley, Smith, Montano, Worrall, Conlon, Taylor, Joyce, Rodney, Hurst.
Andrew Blakemore: I can see we will revert back to 451, with Tom Pope out but hopefully Alex Hurst will be available. My XI: Brown, Mills, Smith, Brisley, Montano, Worrall, Conlon, Joyce, Taylor, Hurst, Rodney.
WHAT‘S YOUR PREDICTION?
Phil Sherwin: “A battling performance. Forest Green 1 Vale 1.”
Paul Dixon: “I think Vale will win 3-1 with Rodney, Taylor and Hurst to score.”
Andrew Blakemore: “It won’t be easy; Forest Green have only lost two at home in the league this season. I’m going for a 1-1 draw, with Jake Taylor marking his second debut start for the Vale hitting home.”
ANY OTHER BUSINESS?
Phil Sherwin: “Well we’ve certainly had a busy start to the year. A change in manager and a win at last. From the interview that Carol Shanahan gave to local radio earlier this week I got the impression that the manager’s job is Danny Pugh’s to lose, and I can see him being in charge until at least the end of the season unless we go on a run like the one that did for John Askey.
“Also if we go past January then any new manager couldn’t bring in any new players.
It’s been stated that he has experience around him with Frank Sinclair and Billy Paynter, which is true, but of course but that alone isn’t a deal breaker. Michael Brown, David Kelly and Chris Morgan all had an abundance of experience and we all know how that panned out. It’s down to how they use that experience and good luck to them.
“The club did a great bit of business in signing Jake Taylor this week and I can’t ever remember us offering a three-and-a-half year deal to anybody before.
“When we signed Harry McKirdy in the summer I remember saying I wished we had Taylor instead, so better late than never! If he can replicate his form of last season with us then it could still be a good season, let’s face it, there is still half of it to go.
“It’s more than unfortunate that Tom Pope will miss a chunk of it after his injury at Sunderland. It seemed to be a clash of heads, but when Tom was down for a few minutes and the top half of his body didn’t seem to be moving at all, you knew it was serious because Popey certainly isn’t a soft touch as far as injuries go. I was surprised he carried on even if we had used all of our subs, especially in the current climate of player’s welfare.
“Maybe we could loan an up and coming youngster from a club higher up the chain, that we don’t have to pay much of their wages, if such a thing still exists these days.”
Paul Dixon: “I’d like to go on record to thank John Askey for turning our fortunes round and turning us into a decent outfit last season. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out this season and the time had come to terminate his contract
“On to the “must win” game against Grimsby in which we were efficient and easily saw off what has to be said a poor side. But as the age old saying goes, “you can only beat what’s put in front of you.“
“Tom Pope had an excellent game and was comfortably man of the match. Monday came about and the welcome return of Jake Taylor on a lengthy deal – a great bit of business by the club.
“On to Tuesday and a really forgettable night for the Valiants as Sunderland won at a canter and we had injuries to Hurst, Whitehead and Pope – the latter being quite serious which looks like keeping our talisman out for a while. Speedy recovery Tom.
“I think now the club can hopefully be in a position to maybe offer the impressive Hurst a new deal. He has a great work ethic , pace and is a great crosser of the ball. I’d also add Scott Brown to that list as he is still one of the best keepers in this league.
“Finally I’d like to see a manager bought in (if it’s not going to be Danny Pugh) who has no ties to Vale – maybe John McGreal who did a great job at Colchester.
“However we will have to see how the season plays out whilst still in this pandemic. We all want fans back but only if it’s safe.”
Andrew Blakemore: “Following Carol Shananhan’s interview earlier in the week, it has sparked discussion about if we are going for the “same old” again and appointing from within. I for one would like to see an experienced manager come in and take charge, but I feel that Carol is right in her decision for the short term.
“Danny Pugh could well bring some form of stability this season, he’s got a wealth of experience and with him included coaching staff that have played around 400 matches for Port Vale, so they know what it means to the supporters.
“I understand the reason why we are not making an appointment straight away. There is still so much uncertainty for this season, let alone what next season will look like. So, to make a permanent appointment has risks. If the season is cancelled again after we have made the appointment we would have a new manager with no doubt their own backroom staff (an additional cost) then wanting to know what the playing budget is for next season. As we don’t even know what next season will yet look like, it’s a headache I don’t envy Carol having.
“For now, at least, it’s Danny Pugh’s job, so we will all back him. The main thing is I hope that we still have football to watch for the remainder of the season, and we are only six points off the play-offs after all, so let’s hope we play until May. No-one wants a repeat of 2020.”