Ahead of Tuesday's Capital One Cup tie with
Port Vale at The Hawthorns, we spoke to Rob from the Vale website
He gave us his views on the Valiants' start to the season,
their squad, Tony Pulis,
and more. You can also follow Rob and his website on Twitter @onevalefan.
How would you
rate Vales start to the season?
Rob Page took over in the middle
of last season and did make the point that the players he was working with
weren't his signings. However, he got some criticism for a poor end to last
season. Well, it seems like Page has proved his critics right. We added eight
new players in the summer and have started really well. We're playing
attractive, passing football and seem to have a really good balance throughout
through your squad, strengths? weaknesses?
If this was last season, the
weakness would have been at the back. But the addition of three new defenders
has transformed Vale's back four into a "mean machine" - with three clean sheets
including one against Championship Burnley in the League Cup. Changes upfront
mean the jury is still out on whether Vale have the goalthreat to challenge but
having said that, we've scored five in the last two games.
I'd say key men are Richard
Duffy at the back, who is marshalling the defence really well; Anthony Grant who
sits in front of the defence and makes the team tick and winger Byron Moore
who's in fine for at the moment.
What sort of
style and tactics can we expect to see from Vale?
Again, in a marked departure
from last season, we're playing at a fast tempo, with two wingers and a passing
style. We do still play the odd long-ball (as most League One sides will) but
it's a much more attractive style of football this season.
Fans expectations for this season?
With a rookie manager and all
the changes, expectations were not high over the summer. But on current form,
we've got a good chance of upsetting the bookies and mounting a challenge for
promotion. Automatic is probably beyond our reach but we're unbeaten so far and
if we carry on in the same vein are the play-offs a realistic target? Perhaps
Two contrasting feelings -
nearly breaking through to the play-offs mid-season and securing safety with a
game to go at the end of a terrible closing run to the campaign.
Moment or game you would
Both fixtures against neighbours
Crewe weren't very good.
Player of last
Michael O'Connor who bosses the
midfield but will miss the
Albion game through injury.
No-one stands out.
for Albion to watch out for on Tuesday?
Lively winger Enoch Andoh has
broken through from the reserve side. He's tiny but full of tricks and never
stops running. If I can mention one more I would add powerful striker Uche
Ikpeazu. He's young and raw but he scared the
Doncaster defence to death on Saturday.
How many Vale
fans are expected to travel to the game and how does that compare to a normal
Vale are very well supported at
away games. We took a full capacity of over 2,000 to the opening game against
Crewe and we're sold a similar amount for this game. I suspect that if it wasn't
a midweek fixture, we would have taken more. Expect a lively and noisy Vale away
contingent. Like all clubs, we have the odd idiot but in general the away crowd
will be looking forward to this game and will make sure that they enjoy
themselves regardless of the result.
Albion? Any of our players you rate? I'd imagine our boss isn't too popular
amongst the Vale support?
I actually think that a lot of
our more sensible fans have an awful lot of respect for what Tony Pulis achieved
with Stoke. Not only that but he involved himself in the local community with
things like charity bike rides and marathon running in aid of local charities.
Even though he was manager of our local rivals, I've a lot of respect for Tony
Pulis as a person as a result of those things.
In terms of players, clearly as
a Premier League side, you've got an awful lot of players we should look up to
as a class above the Vale squad. I hope you treat Vale with respect because if
we reproduce the form we showed on Saturday (we could honestly have put six past
Doncaster) we'll be tough opposition.
Prediction for Tuesday night?
I don't do predictions. But I
will say that I think it depends on what side Tony Pulis puts out on my opinion.
If Albion rest too many and Vale display their current form it could be a lot
closer than some people may think.