Michael Brown cannot really have any complaints regarding his dismissal as manager of Port Vale. Although performances this season have, perhaps, warranted more than the derisory 4 points that have so far been accumulated the problems his team have faced never looked like going away.
After beating Crawley on the opening day Vale have not won since and are sitting bottom of League Two. Let me be clear, a club like Port Vale cannot afford to be relegated out of the Football League! They would find it very difficult to get back as sides like Tranmere and Wrexham would attest!
Brown was appointed caretaker manager last season after the departure of Bruno Ribeiro and he brought in several young players as well as the likes of Chris Eagles, Scott Tanser and Danny Pugh but poor performances coupled with an injury crisis led to Vale’s relegation to League Two giving Brown a record of 26 games in charge and only 5 wins. Hardly something to write home about but in May he was given a 1 year contract to continues as manager for this season’s League Two campaign.
So how did Brown approach the summer? It was an out with the old and in with the new approach as 13 players were released and 11 were brought in including some eye catching additions like club legend Tom Pope after his release from Bury as well as Tyrone Barnett and David Worrall.
Things started well as Brown’s men made light work of Crawley away from home on the opening day with a 3-1 win but then they hit a wall. It was an ominous sign of things to come as Wycombe Wanderers jumped into a 3-0 lead against an all at sea Vale side. To be fair Brown’s players did fight back to 3-2 but it was clear that performance that they were directionless and lacked defensive cohesion. Defeats at Chesterfield and at home to rivals Crewe, both without scoring started a trend that would be the beginning of the end for the former Leeds and Sheffield United midfielder.
September came and the goal less run continued as Vale lost 1-0 at home to Notts County, 2-0 at Coventry and 2-0 at Luton Town to make it 6 games without scoring, if you include the Checkatrade Trophy 0-0 draw at Oldham.
Going in to the Forest Green game is was clear that the fans had lost patience with Brown and, to make matters worse, he was given the dreaded vote of confidence by the board. Vale were facing a Forest Green side that had themselves struggled having already conceded 19 times before the game at Vale Park. Vale did manage to score, taking the lead through Dan Turner but Forest Green pushed forward after the break and substitute Bugiel nodded home an equaliser. The draw was not enough to quell the anger of the home faithful and Brown was duly dismissed.
His final record for the club was 34 games played, 6 won, 9 drawn and 19 lost. That amounted to a win percentage of just 17.6%! Clearly not good enough and exactly the reason why Vale lay bottom of League Two at the time of writing.
With Brown gone the next question is who will take charge now. The next appointment will be, arguably, the most important in the clubs history. If they get it wrong it could see an end to their life in the Football League, which in my opinion, for what it’s worth, would be a disgrace. Vale have the potential to be not only a big player in League Two but a decent side in League One and aiming for anything else does all those loyal Valiants a grave disservice!
Words James Richards