Burslem Boy takes a look back at Vale’s thrashing of Rotherham…
Good people, this was a game for the scrapbook. For the first thirty minutes Vale played as well as they have done in years. You stayaways who have only seen the goals on the BBC`s Football League Programme will have but an inadequate impression of how good the first four were. (The highlights of the Vale game looked like they were edited by Jack the Ripper, but I suppose the wretch was under pressure to create more space for the latest ravings of the demented Di Canio.) 4-0 by no means flattered the Vale. Indeed, it could have been more and would have been more if Myrie-Williams` decision making was better. I even began to feel sorry for Rotherham, but they were thrown a lifeline by a generous piece of refereeing and hapless Vale defending. The ref ignored a blatant bodycheck on Myrie-Williams on the edge of their box (not the first and not the last foul he was to suffer), the ball broke for the Millers who then ran straight down the other end and scored. This was not the first time this has happened this season and it is a concern. Rotherham`s goal changed the game. It gave them hope and the Vale a problem, whether to stick or twist. For the last ten minutes of the first half we did neither, but simply retreated deeper and deeper, stopped tackling and stopped passing and moving. You could feel the balance of the game shift. Around me there were dark mutterings about ‘another QPR`. I bend the knee to no one in my footballing pessimism, but I never for a moment thought we would not win this game, not even when Rotherham pulled it back to 4-2.
Rotherham are clearly a work in progress. They have more or less a new team. Even though I find the Fat Controller as obnoxious as does everyone else I have never thought he was naïve. But it is difficult to describe the way Rotherham began in any other way. They thought it was enough just to turn up and play their game and ignore the opposition (so unlike Torquay last week). Both full backs had nightmare first halves. Wilson was taken off after half an hour and Hunt looked disappointed that he was left on (he went at half time). Shuker pulled the strings in midfield and Pope bullied the central defenders. Ian Sharps is a top pro, but I have never seen him have a worse game. He`ll probably need counselling. As for his co-defender, Mullins, he just seemed to disappear. Perhaps Pope ate him. They say that managers earn their salaries at half time. Mr Evans certainly earned his. He pushed up his reconstituted back four, a brave decision considering how vulnerable they had been in the first half, and squeezed the game in midfield. Vale had to live off crumbs for much of the second half, but whenever Myrie-Williams or Pope got the ball you could feel the panic in the Rotherham defence. Something had to happen and something did. Rotherham gave away two dreadful goals and finally capitulated. It is a credit to them that they did not fold at 3-0 and implode at 4-0. They have some good players, particularly Nardiello and Pringle, and some good players to return to the team. They will be a factor this season.
Vale fans have had precious little to celebrate the past few seasons and the past eighteen months have been a purgatory. Let`s enjoy the team`s new found attacking verve while it lasts. How long this is remains to be seen. And talking about people earning their money, it`s about time the Administrator earned his.