Robbie Earle – Port Vale’s remarkable season could have thrilling conclusion


Port Vale’s fate is in their own hands as they try to complete a remarkable season by making the play-off places over the final 11 games.

Win six more games, perhaps with a draw or two as well, and we should be up there. So, although it’s interesting to speculate about whether Cheltenham’s win over Northampton on Tuesday was a good result for the Vale, or what other results we need this weekend, it’s about what John Askey and his players do.

Realistically, I doubt they are looking much further ahead than this weekend’s home game with Scunthorpe. Just try to win the next game – do that and Vale will take a step closer, but fail to do it and they will still be in the race.

If the Vale do end up falling short then this will still have been a very good season in which foundations have been put in place for the next couple of years.

But if they can get into the play offs then they should reach them in decent form. You don’t want to be the team that goes into it losing six or seven out of the last eleven.

Port Vale’s Scott Burgess celebrating after his strike at Walsall

Vale have beaten everybody currently in the top seven so that tells them they are good enough to be up there and, if they do it, should give them confidence whoever they face.

The message is keep doing what you are doing and you can’t take anything for granted.

We’ve seen that in the last couple of games. After playing so well to beat Colchester 3-0 at home a fortnight ago, the Vale had to hang on a bit to get a 2-2 draw at a Walsall side who by all accounts played really well 

John Askey said his team were below par but I reckon he will take a lot out of that game. The Vale aren’t going to play well every week but digging in and getting an away point says a lot about the his team and their team spirit.

I’m pleased to hear John Rudge is on the mend after he suffered a hip problem last week.

I can only think he’s paying the price for all the volleying he did when he was showing us the ropes in my day at the Vale. Rudgey was a really good volleyer as a player so would take great pleasure in showing us how it was done. I can see him now putting me or Mark Bright or Darren Beckford through our paces in the gym, I just hope all that hasn’t worn his hip out. Hopefully he’s back for the Scunthorpe game and I am sure John Askey will be pleased to have him back.

Rudgey has been at pains to say all the credit for Vale’s transformation goes to the manager, his staff and players and the club’s owners. But I am sure it helps the manager to have someone else in the building who has done the job.

There must be so many different challenges thrown up for a football manager. It must be great to have someone with Rudgey’s experience who is happy to listen or pass on advice and just wants the very best for the club. 

I’m surprised more clubs don’t do it. Take advantage of people like Steve Coppell or Alan Curbishley who have vast experience to pass on.

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