Date: 1st April 2011 at 9:42am
Written by:

Burslem Boy takes a look back at another chaotic month at Vale Park….

March 2011 is probably destined to go down in Port Vale history as the Month of Busgate. (Yes, I know Busgate began in February, but the full ramifications were only felt in March.) It was a month characterised by weak leadership at the top, increasing unrest among the fans, including those who did not buy Black and Gold scarves or protest after home matches, poor results and performances on the field and the dismissal of Jim Gannon. It was a month that no one came out of well. The Board, especially the Chairman, showed itself to be spineless and increasingly unbelievable; the manager continued to be bizarre and baffling until the inevitability of his dismissal; even the players, by the end, seemed reluctant to take responsibility for their actions, even for their own levels of fitness; and some of the fans thoroughly disgraced themselves and the club by their behaviour at Accrington.

Vale fans have had to put up with a lot of disinformation in recent weeks, so let`s look at the facts. In March we played seven games, five at home, of which we won two, lost two and drew three. We scored eight goals and conceded ten. There were no completely convincing performances (well, possibly Bury). In his measured ‘farewell` statement Mr Gannon drew attention to the greater ‘defensive stability` he (via Mr Geohaghon) had brought to the team. Wrong again, Jim. Defence has never been the problem. Even after dismal defeats at Gillingham, Rotherham and Accrington, and at home to Stevenage, we still have one of the best defensive records in the division. It is our inability to score goals that has been the problem all season. This is sometimes the result of not creating any chances – Gillingham and Barnet at home spring to mind – but also of not taking them when created in abundance – Cheltenham Town and Macclesfield at home, for example. Of the seven teams that have scored fewer goals than us, the highest placed is 13th (Aldershot Town); three of the others are in the bottom three. Of the teams in the promotion or play-off places, Chesterfield have scored 31 more goals than us, Wycombe ten more, Shrewsbury fifteen more, Bury nineteen more, Stevenage seven more (but also a better defensive record) and Gillingham eleven more. The team has looked lopsided all season. Quite what successive managers have had against Kris Taylor is difficult to see. OK, he occasionally gets the run around by a speedy winger, usually Omar Daley, but he is a threat going forward, is capable of producing dangerous crosses and is our best bet on set pieces. Who else is going to put the ball on Tom Pope`s head?

It is difficult to know what to make of Jim Gannon. There are people who speak of his intelligence, tactical acumen and professionalism. He arrived at Vale Park armed with a strategic vision. This makes him practically unique in a club that has had a hand to mouth existence throughout its history. He wanted to build a club as well as a team, but his method seemed to be to dismantle the team first. He also seems to have alienated everyone in sight and not just players who he did not fancy and who he dropped from the team. His obsession with an unfit Big Ex ultimately brought about his own exodus. During his reign we hardly created any chances and almost never looked like scoring, certainly not like scoring freely. Isn`t that the point of the game?

By some miracle, we are still in the hunt for a play-off place or even an automatic promotion spot, but rarely, if at all, has the team showed the quality, creativity, pace and balance to win promotion. There is no momentum or real belief either among the players or the fans. I hope to be proved wrong in the coming month.

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