Homeward Bound For Micky Adams?

by Mike Moore

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Port Vale manager (again), Micky Adams

30th December 2010. Micky Adams is confirmed as Sheffield United manager, fulfilling a long-standing dream for the boyhood Blades fan. His appointment has been facilitated by his good work at Port Vale, who he took from being League Two’s nearly men for the last two seasons to genuine promotion contenders. They sit second in the League and on a good run of form. United, on the other hand, are struggling at the foot of the Championship table, and look very much in need of the expertise of the former Coventry and Leicester manager.

Fast-forward to last Friday, the 13th, typically an unlucky day. Sheffield United and Adams’ fight against relegation has proved unsuccessful, after the team failed to win any of his first eleven matches in charge. Port Vale, too, have had a rough run, as their early season promise faded into mid-table mediocrity, their season mainly notable for a bust-up between new manager Jim Gannon and assistant Geoff Horsfield en route to an away game, resulting in both men leaving the team bus. Their reign, like Vale’s season, peters out into disappointment, and upon hearing that Adams has been released by Sheffield United; Port Vale chairman Bill Bratt is quick to re-sign the manager who had instilled some hope into the Burslem club.

Is this a good decision? At first glance, no. Thomas Wolfe famously said, “You can’t go home again”, and Adams’ ditching of Vale to manage his home-town club seems understandable until you view it with hindsight. If he had continued his reign at Port Vale, the two clubs could well have been playing each other next season, with promotion to one side and relegation to the other.  He had been Vale manager for 18 months, building up a squad of talented youngsters and cast-offs, players such as strikers Marc and Justin Richards, midfielder Louis Dodds, and defending powerhouse John McCombe. These players will have doubtlessly been unsettled by Adams’ departure just as the club seemed to be on the up, and may even be more jaded after the Gannon/Horsfield period.

Having had another taste of higher division football, should Adams have dropped back down the leagues? He has managed in the Premiership, after all. Perhaps, like Sven, he fancied a new challenge, bringing a team up from nowhere to surprise everyone. Vale fans will just have to hope the clauses in his new contract are a lot more inflexible than the one which let him leave for the steel city.

Adams does have previous regarding short managerial spells, however. He left after thirteen days and three matches in charge as Swansea City boss in 1997, claiming that the funds promised to him in order strengthen the squad had not been forthcoming. Yet one thing on his side is time. In appointing a manager directly after the season’s end, Vale have at least allowed Adams time to re-acquaint himself with the club and players, sort out his squad for next season, and hopefully push for promotion….


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