Burslem Boy looks back at Vale’s dispiriting home defeat to Swindon..
The last two home games have been utterly dispiriting. Six goals conceded and none scored against opposition that simply had to harry and chase to beat us. On Saturday you could feel hope emptying from the ground like blood from a wound. It is going to be a long, hard winter. It says all you need to know about Vale`s performance that Louis Dodds was our best player and he played less than half the game. Micky Adams`s reversion to a back four at half time never got the chance to show whether it could retrieve something from the first half wreckage when we conceded an utterly unnecessary penalty four minutes into the second half. The referee`s body language said it all ‘did that plonker really push the Swindon player in the back? I suppose I`d better give a penalty`.
The system Micky Adams has favoured the past few weeks does not seem to be working. So much rests on the performance of the wing backs, especially at home. They have to be midfielders when we attack and full backs when we defend, but so often they operate in no man`s land, doing neither. As a result, we get overrun in central midfield and all the opposition has to do is drop the ball into the acres of space behind the wing backs, usually the right wing back, and Vale`s defence starts falling apart. The system also requires a centre back who can bring the ball out of the defence.
All we got in the first half was a series of passes across the back three and then a lump up field to three strikers who offer no width and very little pace. But do we have the personnel to play 4-4-2 either? We don`t have a left back (and haven`t had one since Allen Tankard), Yates`s defensive frailties are often exposed and we don`t have anyone to play wide right. The increasingly inescapable conclusion is that this group of players are not as good as some of them seem to think they are and that they don`t have the ability or mental toughness to get us out of this division. More worryingly, there is the nagging suspicion that not only has the team lost its way but also the manager. Adams is an impact manger. The impact he made in his first coming was both much needed and highly beneficial, but he has not repeated the trick since his return.
As for Swindon, I could weep. Of the twenty-six ‘Swindon` players listed in the Vale programme, five are on loan, three of whom played, and twelve are from outside the United Kingdom. We little clubs like to think of ourselves as the guardians of the grass roots of English football. Not any longer. Fans are notoriously one-eyed. Some would accept Heinrich Himmler as manager if he kept winning games. But there is no future in the Swindon way and I hope it fails.