Season Preview: Port Vale

By Rob Miles (BarnsleyBoy)
Last updated : 06 August 2015

Also known as: The Valiants

Ground: Vale Park

Capacity: 19,052

Year Formed: 1876, reformed in 1907

Website: www.port-vale.co.uk

FootyMad Site: www.portvale-mad.co.uk

Manager: Rob Page

Odds to win the League: 100/1. Odds for Promotion: 28/1 Odds for Relegation: 6/4 

 

2014-2015:

 

League (League One): W: 15 D: 9 L: 22 F: 55 A: 65 GD: -10 Points: 54

Home Record: W: 8 D: 5 L: 10 F: 31 A: 31

Away Record: W: 7 D: 4 L: 12 F: 24 A: 34

Pos: 18th.

Top Scorer: Tom Pope/Ben Williamson (10)

Worst Discipline: Richard Duffy (9 yellows, 1 red)

 

FA Cup: First Round (lost 4-3 to MK Dons)

League Cup: Second Round (lost 3-2 to Cardiff City)

Last Five League Positions: 18th (League One), 9th (League One), 3rd (League Two), 12th (League Two), 11th (League Two)

 

 

Head To Head v Barnsley: W: 45 D: 19 L: 45

Last season v Barnsley: 20/9/14 Port Vale (Michael O’Connor 24, Mark Marshall 89) 2-1 Barnsley (Conor Hourihane 59) & 31/1/15 Barnsley (Chris Neal og45, Ben Pearson 46) 2-1 Port Vale (Colin Daniel 66)

Last Five Results v Barnsley: lost 2-1, won 2-1, drew 1-1, won 3-2, won 5-0.

Meet in 2015-2016 on: Saturday 14th November at Oakwell & Monday 28th March at Vale Park.

 

View From The Terrace:

Robbie Earle’s Perm (Reporter for the awarding winning and premier Port Vale Fans Forum One Vale Fan.)


Level of Interest:

A true infatuation I guess, I went to my first game in our promotion season in the early 80's and promptly fell asleep besides my father in the Vice Presidents lounge! Since then I've been a mascot, ballboy, steward and then volunteer for the Supporters  Club during our troubles 3/4 years ago. I've been a season ticket holder since the early 90's although it has gone to waste somewhat over two of the last 3 years as I have been working overseas for my employer. I am still an addict though and through a mixture of our fantastic forum and DVD’s of the games I keep right up to date.

 

How has pre-season gone for you?:

In terms of results very well as we have won all of our games to date although until Tuesday had played the regular bunch of low level non-league teams as fitness exercises. We beat Notts County on Tuesday but very worryingly our first choice goalkeeper Chris Neal went down injured and is now a real doubt for the start of the season which is really worrying. Although we have a couple of good young reserve prospects they aren't a patch on Neal. We have three fixtures remaining including a Spanish La Liga side on Saturday, Bolton next mid-week before finishing off at Altrincham next Saturday.

 

Are you pleased with the signings your club has made?: 

In general yes. We have signed 7 players, Remi Streete a really cracking prospect of a centre-half from Newcastle who we had on-loan last season before his ill-fated loan at Rangers, Ben Purkiss a right back from Walsall who will hopefully improve a real problem position for us, Sam Foley - Yeovil's player of the season last year and Anthony Grant from Crewe who came second in their player of the year rankings who should both vastly improve our midfield. We have also signed wing prospect Sam Kelly from Norwich and upfront the impressive looking Uche Ikpeazu from Watford on a six month loan who ran our defence ragged last season (for anyone who saw our defence last season it wasn't really too difficult!).

Things at this point were looking very positive although this week has been slightly disappointing with the addition of striker AJ Leitch-Smith from Yeovil who is at best a chancer and at worst a striker with a shocking record for both Crewe and Yeovil and the seeming failure to attract commanding centre-half Ryan Inniss from Crystal Palace on a season long loan. He was with us for a month on loan last season and was exceptional during a run we put together which saw us reach the edge of the play offs. He got injured during our victory at Coventry and we fell apart and only just avoided relegation, just goes to show the impact a quality player can have.

 

What realistically are you aiming for this season?:

Looking at the league aside from the top five which should pick themselves I see the league as much of a muchness so I see no reason why we shouldn't be looking like a host of other clubs to be challenging for the play offs especially as the chairman has proven time after time if we need it, the investment in the team will be there. Ultimately I think we will start poorly and recover to finish 11th.

 

Which player has past his sell by date?: 

We have a few, Carl Dickinson who needs to learn he is not and never will be a marauding full back and needs to stop wingers getting in easy crosses, Louis Dodds who is a lovely guy and generally tends to have a little run of 5-6 games where we see a quality player and then flatters to deceive for 40 games and creates much frustration / debate amongst the fanbase and a few other squad players such as Yates, Birchall and Lloyd (although he's still young, just been around the club for a long time without ever making a break through).

 

Have you got the right manager in charge?:

The jury really is still out. He had a great run which saw us march from second bottom to the edge of the play offs before overseeing an horrendous run towards the end of the season which saw us only preserve our safety on the penultimate day of the season. He also made a daftcomment about our best player Michael O'Connor towards the end of the season after leaving him out of a game at Rochdale but that all seems forgotten as thankfully the player signed a new contract in the summer.

The strangest thing he has done which caused most consternation is waste a lot of our budget for this season on retaining players who were simply not good enough and that haven't been good enough for a number of seasons including the aforementioned Dodds, Yates, Birchall, Lloyd when he had the very real opportunity to overhaul the team and reduce a squad of 30+ players down to 20 of much better quality.

He's also created a top heavy squad with around 14 midfielders and left us scratching around for striker options. That said the players seem to like him so now they need to transfer their talking on to the field and make him a success!            

 

What advice would you give him?: 

Get yourself to a basic maths night class at your local college as this may help when you come to use your next budget! If you are a stationer you wouldn't splurge all your budget on rubbers you like and then have nothing left to buy pens and pencils!

 

Who do you see as your key player?: 

I would go for two of last season's three best players - Chris Neal in goal and Michael O'Connor who virtually swept the board in our player of the year awards. Neal was outstanding last season playing behind a defence that was conceding goals for fun and O'Connor benefited from playing 40+ games. We are all hopeful the addition of Grant and Foley to midfield should give him more support and freedom to destroy teams in what is anticipated to be a slick 4-3-3 formation.

 

Who would you most like to beat this season?:

The team we are playing next! We haven't had our rivalry with Stoke since the early 2000's after being their nemesis for much of the 90's and that shows no sign of changing any time soon so whoever we play is equally important starting with Crewe on the opening day.

 

Where will you finish?: 

As I alluded to earlier I think ultimately 11th but would be happy with anything between 9th to 12th and delighted with anything higher than 9th!

 

How do you rate Barnsley's chances next season and where do you think they will finish?:

I think ultimately you will finish above us, if I'm saying Vale will finish 11th I will guess at 8th. You clearly have a good young manager in Lee Johnson who has taken to management like a duck to water. Signings seem quite impressive in Watkins, Mawson, Wilkinson and Pearson but surely the most important fact is that like us you kept your key player(s) like we did with O'Connor in the shape of Nyatanga and Hourihane, two players I have always admired. Good luck to the Tykes for the season, except on the two occasions when we meet each other of course!

 

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