David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Micky Adams’

Promotion? I would never have predicted that

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

I’ve waited for so long to be able to write this post. Even now, it feels premature as we are not 100% promoted, but I somehow can’t see a 29 goal swing occurring next weekend, so we did it. In front of just over 12,000 fans, we achieved promotion.

It is amazing to think where we were 12 months ago, and then compare it to where we are now. On May 5th, I walked out of Vale Park after beating Oxford not knowing if that was going to be the last time I ever saw my club play. I can’t convey how that feels, and I hope that no fan ever has to go through it, because it is horrible. Fast forward through the Keith Ryder saga, and we are left with a group of players who bonded over the fact that we were still in administration. Sold the dream by Micky Adams, no-one really expected them to do anything. At the beginning of the season, I would have snapped your hand off at mid-table and security as a team. I don’t think anyone saw Tom Pope scoring an incredible 31 league goals (In his entire career before this season, he had only scored 30 league goals) and I don’t think anyone saw us being the top goal scorers in the league.

So how do I explain it? There are so many twists and turns in a league season that I never truly believed we would get promoted. We went top, and then hit a patch of bad form, and started to drop. We built up a 12 point cushion, and then we couldn’t win to save our lives, and it just seemed like we were never going to drag ourselves over the finish line. In a way, it summed up our season that a formed Vale player had to score an own goal that sent us up. We never do things the easy way, and this was just another case in point.

With one game left, it’s all but over. We’re promoted. There are so many people I would want to thank, but in reality, I couldn’t ever thank them all. So I’m going to say these:

1) Thank you Micky Adams. We doubted you, we scorned you when you left, and we questioned your decisions. In the end, the players you trusted and believed in repaid you in full.

2) Thank you Norman and Paul. You picked up a football club in the doldrums, and restored pride and passion. You gave me a reason to believe, and you gave every single fan hope that we could turn around 15 years of decline. You put the money in when we needed players to take us over the line, and you united a fanbase by giving us a reason to be cheerful.

3) Thank you to every single player who pulled on the Port Vale shirt. Every single one of you has done us proud, and every single one of you should never have to buy a drink in Burslem again, as was apparently proven on Saturday night!

Finally, congratulations to Tom Pope. I’ve said it before, but he has had a truly remarkable season. He always said he had 3 goals, to play for Port Vale, to score for Port Vale, and to help us to win promotion. Not a bad way to do all three.

Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster

How to break the habit?

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Sitting pretty at the top of the league, a win at previous league leaders Gillingham, and new signings coming in, suddenly there is an air of positivity around the previously dark halls of Port Vale.

While Lee Hughes is a name that polarizes, there can be no argument that the addition of him, Darren Purse, Chris Birchall and Daniel Jones have added experience, quality and cover in positions that we needed them. But not only that, we have been told the signings haven’t stopped! I don’t know how to react to this.

I’ve been supporting Port Vale for the best part of 15 years (more than half of my life!) and it has been bleak for most of them. Under the previous regime, we were treated to relegations, and no real hope. This has been the life of a Port Vale fan, and it’s a tough thought process to break.

Picture the scene. In years gone by, our managers list has read like a who’s who of no-hopers. Names such as Dean Glover, Lee Sinnott, and the ever popular James (Don’t call me Jim, especially not on a bus) Gannon have graced the dugout, and each destroyed the faith that I had in my club a little bit.

I don’t want sympathy; I know that this is the curse of being a lower league football fan. We don’t have the continued highs of a Manchester United, but they don’t get to share the crippling roller coaster of emotions that we consider a normal season. We consider a trip to Wembley a unique experience (I’ve been to two finals while a fan, the LDV Vans and the Anglo Italian Cup) and winning a title is a once in a lifetime thing.

This new turn of events, leading a league, bringing in signings that the footballing world has actually heard of, I didn’t see it coming. I don’t know how to react to it at all! I appreciate that many fans would give their right arm to have some form of success, but I just don’t know what to do!

Seeing us take 2000 fans to Fleetwood, winning at top of the league, beating Rotherham at Rotherham. These are things that just don’t happen to little Port Vale! I got so used to the misery, it became normality. The ups and downs of a single season in the Football League would make most people crack.

But you know what, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m hooked on the emotional ride. I crave the highs and the lows. I spend my time searching for my next fix of terrible stadiums, awful pitches, route one football, and starting a season knowing that promotion or relegation are both distinct possibilities.

Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster

Toppo’s Top Tens – Short Managerial Reigns

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Football managers – who’d be one?

It is often said that a new manager needs time to bring in his own players and try out different formations. Despite this the average tenure of bosses has gradually decreased over the past two decades as trigger happy chairmen wield the axe if things fail to go to plan.

The pressure for immediate success from fans and owners is another reason so many managers collect their P45’s each season. Peter Jackson walked away from the Bradford City hotseat last week after a couple of months in charge – hardly enough time to build a successful squad – to become this season’s first managerial casualty in the Football League.

He was in charge of his side for a relatively short period, but it is nothing compared to the reigns of the men below who stretch the phrase ‘short-term’ to its very limits. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ten of the shortest managerial stints in Football League history….

10: Gary Megson, Leicester City

During Milan Mandaric’s spell as owner of Leicester City, it seemed the club changed manager every week. The reality was of course nowhere near that bad, but it wasn’t great either as seven managers occupied the dugout at the Walkers Stadium in a four year period. The fourth of those was Gary Megson, who arrived on September 13th 2007.

He guided the Foxes to their first league win in early October, beating Sheffield Wednesday away 2-0 but was soon attracting interest from Premier League Bolton Wanderers. Mandaric rejected a first approach from Bolton but the Trotters publically stated Megson as their number one choice as a second approach was rebuffed by the Foxes.

After Bolton made another move Megson was given permission to speak to the Trotters and on October 24th he left Leicester City to take over at the Reebok – 41 days and nine league games after joining the club.

9: Dave Penney, Bristol Rovers

Former Doncaster Rovers, Darlington and Oldham Athletic boss Dave Penney was appointed Bristol Rovers manager in January 2011, replacing the sacked Paul Trollope. Rovers were struggling in League One when Penney arrived, by the time he left they were staring relegation in the face.

He took charge for thirteen matches and lost nine of them before being ousted by the West Country club less than two months after joining, a 2-0 loss to Dagenham & Redbridge proving to be the final straw for his employers. Penney’s only wins came against Swindon Town and former club Oldham while his biggest defeat was a 6-1 demolition at fellow strugglers Walsall. 33-year-old club captain Stuart Campbell took over until the end of the season.

8: Steve Coppell, Manchester City

Steve Coppell was appointed Manchester City manager in October 1996, the Sky Blues seeking a quick return to the Premier League having been relegated four months before. Sandwiched between his second and third spells as Crystal Palace boss, he lasted just six games and 33 days at Maine Road before quitting, citing the pressure of the job as his reason for leaving. Unsurprisingly, his tenure is the shortest of any City manager to date.

7: Paul Hart, Queens Park Rangers

Queens Park Rangers moved to appoint Paul Hart as their new boss in December 2009. Hart had a nine month tenure on the South Coast as Portsmouth manager prior to this role, but even that could not have prepared him for what proved to be a brief stay in West London.

Hart’s predecessor Jim Magilton left after falling out with a player and Hart too had a bust up with one of the playing staff, Adel Taarabt before leaving in January 2010, less than a month after his appointment. On the pitch things did not go well under Hart as QPR won one of his five Championship matches in charge against Bristol City, the manager heavily criticised for poor tactics and player selections before being shown the door by Flavio Briatore.

6: Bill Lambton, Scunthorpe United

Former goalkeeper Bill Lambton managed just three official league appearances as a player.  Having moved into coaching Lambton following retirement, he turned up at Leeds United as manager in December 1958. He stayed there for just four months, a lengthy tenure compared to his next job at Glanford Park. Lambton took over as Scunthorpe United manager before a 3-0 defeat to Huddersfield in his first game in charge saw his reign brought to a very swift end, three days after it had begun.

5: Martin Allen, Leicester City

Back to the East Midlands for the third of Milan Mandaric’s Leicester City managers.  Martin Allen arrived at the Walkers in May 2007 having had success at Brentford and MK Dons in the previous three seasons.

However soon into Allen’s reign his relationship began to deteriorate with chairman Mandaric over disagreements about transfer targets. The former West Ham and QPR midfielder’s contract was terminated by mutual consent on August 29th 2007, after just four matches in charge.

4: Micky Adams, Swansea City

Current Port Vale boss Micky Adams took charge of the then-struggling Swansea City in Division Three not long after the start of the 1997-98 season, having guided Fulham to promotion from the league’s basement division in 1997. However the 36-year-old left South Wales after 13 days and 3 games in charge, claiming money promised to strengthen the squad never materialised.

3: Steve Coppell, Bristol City

Steve Coppell makes his second appearance in this list for his brief stint as Bristol City boss in the summer of 2010. Having enhanced his managerial CV by steering Reading to the Premier League for the first time in their history, alongside his achievements at Palace, all seemed rosy as the former Manchester United midfielder arrived at Ashton Gate to replace Gary Johnson as manager.

England goalkeeper David James joined from Portsmouth and the Robins were instilled as pre-season favourites for promotion from the Championship. However two games and 112 days later Coppell walked away from the club and retired from football management with immediate effect, claiming he could not ‘become passionate about the role and give the commitment the position needs.’ It was 1996 all over again.

2: Dave Bassett, Crystal Palace

Dave Bassett established himself as one of the brightest managerial talents outside the top flight as he oversaw Wimbledon’s incredible rise up the Football League. He won three promotions with the Crazy Gang in four seasons before accepting an offer to become manager at Crystal Palace in June 1984. Technically Bassett never signed a contract with the Eagles, however after four days at Selhurst Park he quit, refused to sign on the dotted line and returned to Wimbledon.

1: Kevin Cullis, Swansea City

Probably not the most well-known gaffer on this list but his is a name Swansea City fans try to forget in a hurry. Kevin Cullis was appointed manager at the Vetch Field in February 1996 by new chairman Michael Thompson as the club languished in Division Three. He had never played professional football and his only previous managerial experience came as the Youth Coach of non-league Cradley Town in the West Midlands.

His career at the Swans lasted two games in which his side shipped five goals and lost twice. In his second match against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, Cullis’ half-time team talk was apparently ignored as the players took control and he soon resigned, 13 days after his appointment. The phrase ‘lost the dressing room’ could not be more apt.

Written by Steven Toplis, We Are Going Up blogger.

Tweet Steven at @steven_toplis with your suggestions for Toppo’s Top Tens.

No rest for the wicked…

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

It may not contain the multi-million pound transfers, the world’s best players or huge stadiums, supporting a Football League club can promise one thing; there is never a dull moment. Whether that is due to on the field highs and lows, or boardroom politics, the life of a Football League fan is stressful at best.

In my last blog, I mentioned the unrest within the board room at Port Vale. After finishing the blog, we let our second top scorer from the previous season leave on a free (Justin Richards to Burton Albion), and then the next morning, the Chairman resigned from his post, remaining as a board member but stepping down from the head role. This would be enough for most teams for a season, but within the past couple of days we were treated to the former chairman offering his resignation if new investment comes in. This is, approximately, the fifteenth time that he has said this. Forgive the pessimism, but I will believe it when I see it! Add this to the fact that our manager is a board member, and we have turned down two local multimillionaires who wanted to invest, and you have at least a decade’s worth of drama within a month period.

I don’t want to dwell on the off the field problems. They are well documented, and frankly it’s enough to make any die-hard fan tear their hair out. The real business started last week, and we opened up against newly promoted Crawley Town. It’s not often that a team gets promoted and is instantly installed as the favourites for promotion, but it was clear to see why they have that status. A strong, physical team, but also a team that has a touch of quality on the ball. While I may not be the biggest fan of their manager, or the way in which they have spent their way to the league (Yes, it is a small amount of the green-eyed monster) you cannot argue with the job that they have done. Coming away from the game, I felt quite relieved that we scraped a point from it, especially as it came from an injury time goal.

Then, we moved onto Huddersfield Town at home. Given our shaky defensive performance against Crawley, and the fact that Huddersfield seem to score goals for fun, I couldn’t help but be pensive going into the game. We managed to go 1-0 up, but it was all downhill from there, eventually losing 4-2. What worried me was not the performance, but more the tactics. Playing with four central midfielders, we were constantly exposed along the flanks, and it came as no surprise that 3 of the 4 goals originated in wide positions. I am all for trying to play the best players within the team, but there was a definite feel of square pegs in round holes.

The continuing tactical gambles finally appeared to work well away at Barnet. This time a back-five was the basis for a 3-1 win, and we now sit pretty in fourth in the league. With Marc Richards injured, we relied on other players to score the goals, and Sean Rigg responded with two very well taken goals that would not have been out of place in higher leagues. Worries that Micky Adams may not know his best eleven are beginning to subside, and hopefully we can kick on and finally lift ourselves out of League Two.

I would say that I am looking forward to a quiet week now, but given the general soap opera feel around PVFC, I somehow can’t see that happening!

In Micky We Trust.

Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster

A Tale of Turmoil

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Last year’s turmoil

For most, the start of the season is one for optimism, whether you spent last season fighting relegation or battling at the top, chances are you start this season believing that this could be your year. But what of those teams that have had turmoil over the summer? As Stoke City prepare to line up in the Europa League qualifiers, their neighbours Port Vale find themselves in turmoil. This time last year, we had that optimism that is synonymous with the start of the season. Micky Adams had taken the pre-season to bring in players that he wanted and give them the pre-season that he demanded, and our form at the end of the previous season caused great hope, but then it all fell apart in the most spectacular of ways. Sheffield United came calling, and PVFC’s great hope was gone, almost as soon as he had arrived. The rest of that season read more like a soap opera than a football club. Jim Gannon’s appointment, “Busgate”, a massive drop off in form and the fans discontent growing to new levels. The fans lack of confidence in the board was shown when they called an EGM with motions to remove every one of the board members and push through a vote of no confidence. Surely, given the weight of discontent, Port Vale would have new owners…

This year’s turmoil

Fast forward to the present day. The board, with a vote of no confidence in tow, still contains three of that previous board, and one Micky Adams. The messiah returned, and now has the “Safest job in football” The fans continue to protest, the board continue to ignore them, and the optimism that normally fills the start of a season has been replaced with fear.  We now have not one, but two local millionaires wanting to invest in our club, yet the board continue to cling on to power, losing money every year. While Crawley may be celebrating their first game in the football league on 6th August, Port Vale fans will be starting this season as they ended last, a protest march through the town, and a continual call for fans to “Starve ‘Em Out”, a protest aimed at cash starving the board out. Risky? Yes, but many believe it is the only alternative remaining in a bid to reclaim the club from those who once professed to only being interested in a fan run club. Thankfully, as it always does, the new season allows those who want to the chance to forget about any off-field problems, and for those 90 minutes, concentrate on the 22 guys on the pitch. So, on the field, is there any chance that we can somehow make it out of the bottom tier of English football?

Squad Changes

At the start of last season, our squad was based on quality, not quantity. Starting with 17 players with league experience, and 3 graduates from the youth team, any injury and we would be in trouble. This year, two players have departed to pastures new, and have been replaced by six incoming players. Micky raided former club Sheffield United for Kingsley James and Phil Roe, took a defender from last season worst defence in League 1 in Clayton McDonald, and picked up a couple of talents from the Glenn Hoddle Academy. With many on short term contracts or loans, there is the worry that if the new signings play well, they will leave in January for nothing, but if they are awful, they will be let go anyway. We could be back to a paper thin squad by Christmas, and that is a worry for most fans.

The Squad

Goalkeepers

Surprisingly, given the fact that we haven’t paid a fee for a player since Luke Rodgers in 2007, Port Vale actually have two of the better goalkeepers in the league, with Stuart Tomlinson and Chris Martin both fighting for the number 1 shirt. Martin is arguably the better shot stopper, but Tomlinson commands his area in a more confident way than Chris. I would normally insert a Coldplay related joke about Chris, but I will not be reverting to cheap puns, mainly because at this moment in time I can’t think of one.

Defenders

As previously mentioned, we have retained the core of last season’s defence. Adam Yates, John McCombe, Gareth Owen and Lee Collins form the main back four, with McDonald and Roe coming in. A lot will be expected of this defence, especially given the form that they showed last season before Micky left. It would be sensible to make the argument that our chances of doing anything this season will balance on how the defence can recover from the back end of last season.

Key man: Lee Collins. Ended last season out of form, but when playing well is one of the best defenders in League 2.

Midfield

For me, midfielders are there to do one of 3 things. Break up play, create chances or score goals. This season, we have a mix of these players, but all of whom have been inconsistent for us in the past. Gary Roberts is a prime example of this. A former England U16,U17,U18 and U19 captain, his off field demons stopped him reaching his full potential. On his day, a key player, on an off day, he may as well not be on the pitch! Add that to our new international in Anthony Griffith and we seem to lack a goalscorer in the middle. Still, hopefully one can step up to the plate!

Key man: Gary Roberts. Has the ability to play in at least League 1, but is the temperament there?

Forwards

It is looking likely that we will be going into the season with 3 recognised strikers, Marc and Justin Richards, and Ben Williamson. Talk is that Tom Pope will be joining, but at the moment, we can’t afford to matchMansfield’s offer (A sad indictment of how far we have sunk. Oh for the days when we had Tony Naylor up front)

Key man: Ben Williamson. Marc will score goals, but needs a partner who can finish. If Ben can do this, we may have a chance.

Overall, I can’t help but think that our squad is lacking a touch of quality. Looking at teams who go up, they generally have that one player who can change a match. While we have that on odd occasions, we don’t have the consistency to challenge. The question is, will hard graft get us there, or will we languish in mid table again? My prediction, 11th.

Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster