‘Masterstroke’ – Port Vale fans hail surprise ‘top signing’ of the summer so far



It’s fair to say Port Vale have had a busy week – James Wilson, Aaron Martin and Dan Jones have all signed for the club, while Andy Crosby has agreed to stay on as assistant manager.

Taking a look at issues on and off the pitch at Vale Park is our fans panel of Paul Dixon, from Burslem, Ian Woodward, from Alsager, and Andrew Blakemore, from Denford.

PAUL DIXON: “The rebuild has commenced, and the various Port Vale pages on the internet are alive with rumours and sightings of supposed players “at the ground “ or the saying “ it’s a done deal“.

“Close season always brings speculation and, after the release of most of our previous squad, it’s imperative that Darrell Clarke and David Flitcroft get most of their first-choice signings in the building off a list that must be as long as Hamil Road.

“We have bought in Brad Walker, Ben Garrity, Aaron Martin, James Wilson and Dan Jones. All come with relatively good experience at this level, and higher, so it all seems really positive to me that we are getting deals done and not left picking from “what’s left” towards the start of the season. That is surely showing our intent to give it a real go this season.

“I don’t expect miracles, but I am expecting a super fit squad with hunger and desire. For me though, the signing of Andy Crosby, our first-team coach, could prove to be a masterstroke for Vale because he has proved his worth at higher division clubs than ours and it seems that Clarke and Crosby could be a quality duo at the helm.

“That we can also attract a player of James Wilson’s pedigree also bodes well for Vale. Although not prolific with previous clubs, he clearly has quality and, if played straight through the middle, it could be a masterstroke… so fingers crossed.

“So, I make it another nine or 10 signings, of which two will be goalkeepers. Hopefully they will all be in for what I imagine will be a gruelling pre-season to get ready to hit the ground running.

“It won’t just be about individual skill in the season, it needs to be a close-knit group who are willing to go to war for each other to win games of football.

“I’d just like to wish Scott Brown all the best with his move to Exeter. He was always a pleasure to deal with at Port Vale. A great goalkeeper and even better human being.”

IAN WOODWARD: “With the close season player merry-go-round now in full swing at many clubs around the EFL, and five new arrivals already through the doors at Vale Park, some fans will rush to voice an opinion as to the various qualities or shortcomings of each player.

Some may base their judgment on what they’ve witnessed on the pitch, although I suspect a fair few make their assessment solely on what they’ve managed to glean from the internet and various social media sites.

“Whilst admittedly checking out the player history of each new signing, I prefer to wait and see how they perform in a Vale shirt, in the thick of those competitive league or cup fixtures, before offering any thoughts and opinions. Some of these new players will of course hit the ground running, a few may take time to settle and unfortunately for some, the move just won’t work out.

“Let’s hope the manager ticks the first couple of boxes. So far, I know very little about the new recruits other than James Wilson, from when he was a Manchester United player and then on loan at clubs in the Championship. He certainly has the pedigree, but given that he’s now plying his trade in League Two and he’s only 25, I’ve no doubt he’ll be trying his best to prove that he belongs at a higher level and show us what he can do.

“As fans, we can only hope that Messrs Clarke and Flitcroft get all their bits of the jigsaw in the right place when we kick off in August, because I get the feeling there’s an expectation we’ll amongst the challengers.

Having narrowly missed out on the play-offs, moneybags Salford will be amongst most pundits’ favourites but, as regards the rest, I think those top spots will be up for grabs. After all, Cambridge and Morecambe made it last time around after finishing 16th and 22nd respectfully in the curtailed 2019/20 season. So, if we recruit well and Clarke can spin a bit of magic, maybe 2021/22 will be our year.”


ANDREW BLAKEMORE
: “You knew that Darrell Clarke and David Flitcroft would want to ensure the squad rebuild was in place in good time, but this has certainly started full throttle.

“You can see what they are trying to do in bringing in players early. It makes perfect sense, and we could not afford to have a pre-season where we have trialist after trialist in order to put a squad together.
The signing of James Wilson is an intriguing one. If he can hit the ground running and find good form, then we may well have a top signing on our hands. I feel we still need an experienced striker to play up front with him. As much as Devante Rodney did well last season, he is still learning and I’m not sure if that pairing will score enough of the goals we need if we have aspirations of the play-offs.

“Appointing Andy Crosby as Clarke’s assistant is, in my eyes, one of the most crucial signings. You could see what a difference he made when he came in last season.

“It’s going to be an interesting few weeks ahead before pre-season training rolls around, now just for that minor distraction of the European Championships, before real football returns.”





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