New Port Vale boss must tackle frightening form since Halloween



Port Vale are at home to leaders Cambridge this weekend, looking to build on their two draws, 1-1 at Leyton Orient and 0-0 at home to Stevenage, in manager Darrell Clarke’s first games. Over to our fans’ panel of Aaron Rigby from Perth, Australia, and Phil Sherwin and Paul Dixon, both from Burslem.

WHAT’S YOUR TEAM?

Aaron Rigby: “It’s a chance for Darrell to continue to experiment with the different personnel in the squad. Defensively we were solid on Saturday and Tuesday but changes need to be made in midfield as we lack a spark at present. I’d bring Burgess in alongside Taylor and go 4 4 2.

“Brown, Gibbons, Smith, Crookes, Montano, Worrall, Taylor, Burgess, Hurst, Rodney, Swan.”

Phil Sherwin : “Revolves around which players are fit. If Worrall is fit he plays, same with Joyce. Ditch the 3-5-2, go for another system that Darrell Clarke hasn’t tried yet, 4-3-3!

“Brown, Gibbons, Legge, Smith, Montano, Joyce (or Burgess), Conlon, Taylor, Worrall (or Hurst), Guthrie, Rodney.”

Paul Dixon : “Brown, Gibbons, Legge, Smith, Montano, Worrall, Conlon, Oyeleke, Taylor, Rodney, Guthrie.

“This side will depend on who’s fit and and what system Darrel Clarke plays.

WHAT’S YOUR PREDICTION?

Aaron Rigby: “Cambridge are flying high and with Hoolahan have arguably the best player in the league. I still maintain on our day we are a match for anyone but our day hasn’t been much at all this season. I reckon another draw, 1-1.

Phil Sherwin: “A better performance than the other night (could hardly be worse!)

“Vale 1 Cambridge 1”

Paul Dixon: “I’m going for 2-1 win Rodney and Guthrie to score.”

ANY OTHER BUSINESS?

Aaron Rigby : “The more I hear Clarke speak, the more I can’t help but be impressed. He doesn’t paper over the cracks and I love his honesty. The squad has massively under achieved but we have enough about us to finish the season strongly.

“This will allow Clarke to chop and change the team to judge who will be in his plans and who won’t be moving forward. All fans will have differing opinions about which players should stay and go, but I that Clarke and Flitcroft, with Carol’s backing, to get most of the decisions right.

“With news about fans being allowed into grounds next season hopefully 2021-22 will be a positive one for Port Vale, with promotion our main objective.”

Phil Sherwin: “There’s no doubt that the Stevenage game was one of those awful ones you get now and again.

“Afterwards Darrell Clarke said the quality was shocking, but the effort was excellent, which is fair enough. They obviously can play better as they did earlier in the season.

“The question, is what has gone wrong since Halloween? On that day we were 5th in the table with 19 pts from 10 games, and since then we have taken 15 pts from 20 games.

“Seven of the players on that day v Southend played on Tuesday. Since then we have brought Gibbons, Taylor and Rodney (he missed that Southend game) in so in theory we are stronger, but the front three that day in October were Amoo, Pope and Worrall, all big misses with injury. It doesn’t tell the whole story though.

“If the manager wants to change the squad around in the summer he has certainly got the scope to do so with 22 players being out of contract. What needs to be sorted is though is what limits will be put on it by the EFL. At the moment we know that the wage cap has been jettisoned, but the limit of 20 players aged over 21 remains, unless clubs get together to vote it out.

“I wasn’t in favour of the cap, and I can see why it was brought in, but the 20 player limit just seems ridiculous to me. I know you can have as many under 22 as you want but that’s not the point. I would rather have just a cap and no limit on numbers. The cap came in to prevent another Bury from happening, but is the way to stop that to limit clubs like Sunderland from spending no more than Accrington on wages despite having 20 times their gates (when fans are allowed in)?

“To prevent another Bury situation, I think the onus is on the EFL to look at all clubs’ books, maybe every few months and give each club a debt limit for the end of the next transfer window with points deductions for those who transgress. The limit can vary from club to club. That would focus their minds. Every system will have its critics and it is very hard to get something that will suit everybody.

At least the fans will be back next season!”

Paul Dixon: “A decent point at Orient, in which Vale were steady rather than spectacular with a 4/4/2, set us up for a Tuesday encounter with Stevenage where we had a 3/5/2 formation or so we thought.

“A desperately disappointing display from the Valiants ended up being more like a 5/3/2 as Stevenage controlled large parts of the game, not allowing our wing backs to push on thus giving us no width. They controlled the midfield completely.

“Having said that, I thought Vale had the best opportunity when Rodney battled his way through and probably should have passed to Swann for a tap in.

“There’s no lack of effort or desire which was pleasing but to be frank the quality of play from both sides was quite woeful. A point was better than none but alarm bells are ringing as we appear to have shored up the rear but going forward was a painful watch.

“We have to understand here that we are in serious trouble a point Darrell Clarke has touched on, and the sooner we realise that , the better.

“Probably five wins will do it but if I’m brutally honest, where they are coming from, I don’t know.

“In his own words “it’s an expensively assembled squad “ so reading between the lines there will be a clear out at the end of the season, but for now he has his hands full trying to get the best out of what he’s got.

“I do believe Clarke will build a young decent squad over the summer and I already think he knows what he requires. Let’s hope we are in League Two.

“In other news there are a couple of things I’d like to know about David Flitcroft as DoF which I must admit I find a baffling appointment. How long is his contract? Can he just walk away if a club comes in for him for a managerial role (he’s only 47). Does he aspire to manage again?

“Let’s hope he forms a partnership with Clarke and they recruit the type of players that Port Vale want to see, hardworking and pride in wearing the shirt.

“Finally let’s hope that the pandemic is finally under control and next season we can get back to home /away fixtures that all supporters can attend. I can’t wait to be travelling all over the country to support the team along with many, many others.”





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