Martin Tideswell: Window slams shut and key assets remain at Vale Park
SO we are still blessed. Tom Pope didn't leave Burslem during the transfer window for £50 and a dozen oatcakes.
How about that? 'Vale hang on to key players shock'.
As Norman Smurthwaite asked back in November: 'Port Vale isn't in a distressed state so why would we sell our best assets?'
It didn't stop the rumour mill, of course, but we are lucky that Pope himself is hell-bent on being the man to fire his home-town club to promotion.
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The fact that he remains a Vale player until the end of the season at least is absolutely massive.
Yes, I'd feel better if he was contracted until the end of next season – as the chairman indicated some time ago – but I guess we have to trust that this will come to pass.
I understand why contract talks are on hold for the rest of the squad – as whether or not we are in League One will obviously have a bearing on things.
My only hope is that the likes of Jennison Myrie-Williams, Ashley Vincent, Louis Dodds, Ben Williamson, Ryan Burge and Doug Loft are all still playing alongside Pope at Vale Park come August.
As it is, smart business during January has seen the new owners give Micky Adams the backing to build a squad which is very capable of seeing us over the line.
Since the televised game away at AFC Wimbledon, where Popey's equaliser salvaged a point for us, results have gone for Vale.
We now have a really good cushion between us and the teams in fourth spot and below, as well as games in hand over some of them.
Two eminently-winnable home games in quick succession – against Accrington and AFC Wimbledon – give us the chance to put even more daylight between us and the chasing pack.
I'll be honest – I'm not fussed if we finish first or third so long as we go straight up and I suspect most fans aren't either.
So long as we avoid the lottery of the play-offs I'll be happy. Winning the title would simply be the icing on the cake.
The manager is understandably playing down expectations and taking each game as it comes.
But he will know that every three points ratchets up that expectation because it takes us one step closer to the promotion dream.
I believe in Micky Adams and this squad.
We shouldn't be afraid of any team in this league. We can beat anyone.
Now let's go and finish this.