Vale Pay Price For Poor January Window, Despite Transfer Windfall
Port Vale’s poor 2018 form continued on Saturday after they were well beaten away at Cheltenham Town 5-1, thanks in part to a Mohammed Eisa hat-trick.
The result makes it only three points out of a possible 21 since the turn of the New Year, a massive change in fortunes since the good form the side had previously shown since manager Neil Aspin’s arrival in early October.
In that time, the Valiant’s had pulled themselves off the foot of the table and well clear of trouble – thrashing runaway leaders Luton Town in the process.
This form was built upon a solid defensive unit of James Gibbons, Nathan Smith, Tom Anderson and Gavin Gunning, along with goalkeeper Ryan Boot.
However the January transfer window saw Tom Anderson recalled by parent club Burnley (and subsequently loaned to League One side Doncaster Rovers), whilst Gavin Gunning departed for Forest Green after his short term contract expired.
The loss of Gunning hit the club hard – especially considering manager Aspin’s desire to keep the 26 year-old left back.
The Vale offered Gunning extended terms, but they were not good enough as the defender chose to join Forest Green on a longer contract.
This, plus the loss of reserve left back Tyler Denton who was recalled from his loan by Leeds, left the Staffordshire club with no left sided defender – an issue they have since failed to rectify.
The damage wasn’t caused by losing an individual player however, but through destroying the core of a settled and confident back four.
And since then the Vale have been drawn back into a relegation fight once more.
Aspin did manage to do some good business over the January period. He brought in promising young players Dior Angus, Luke Hannant, and Callum Howe – however these were not necessarily meant for the immediate future.
— Port Vale FC (@OfficialPVFC) 31 January 2018
Bringing in young, raw talent from the non-league is what the club was based upon in its most successful period under John Rudge in the 80’s and 90’s, and something the fans hope will lead to more success in the future.
However despite the £1.9million the club made in sell on fees after former striker Jordan Hugill left Preston for West Ham on transfer deadline day, Port Vale failed to bring in the required experience for the second January in a row.
This has to be an indictment of the way owner Norma Smurfwaite has run the club.
The club has made £2.2million pounds in transfer fees in the last two seasons, but the money has not been used to replace the quality of players that they have lost because of it.
That resulted in relegation from the third tier last season, and if Smurfwaite doesn’t start to provide for his club then the consequences could be far more severe this time around.
words Alex Bettany, D3D4 Port Vale correspondent