Port Vale: Pope praise for man who made him a hit
TOM Pope has paid a glowing tribute to the manager who has turned him into an ace marksman.
The striker, who will be looking for his 28th goal of a stellar season at Barnet tomorrow, says Micky Adams has played a huge role in helping him become one of the hottest properties in League Two.
Pope, who scored only five times last season, said the attacking style of play introduced by the manager this season, and the work ethic he insists on, have been key factors in a remarkable turnaround in his own fortunes.
The 27-year-old has played under various managers in the past, including Dario Gradi and Ronnie Moore.
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But he says it's Adams's no-nonsense style which has brought the best out of him.
"The gaffer commands so much respect at the club, not just from me, but from everyone," he said.
"It's down to him that I've been scoring so many goals.
"To have a manager who is as strict as he is, and who demands you give your best at all times, like he does, has done me the world of good.
"I prefer a manager, below, to tell me what I'm doing wrong, rather than one patting me on the back all the time.
"If that happens, it is easy to take your foot off the gas and become complacent.
"I'd rather come off the pitch, even if I have scored a hat-trick, and have the gaffer telling me what I did wrong.
"It's horses for course, I know, but I have a manager who believes in me and who has played a massive part in helping me become the player I am now."
Pope said Adams's demand for hard work had paid off for his team too.
Few would have predicted before the season that Vale would be four points clear at the top of the table with 16 games to go.
"We haven't got where we are through being the best squad in the league," said Pope.
"If it was done like that, then Rotherham would probably be 20 points clear by now.
"We've got here through sheer graft and a manager who sets his stall out to get players' mentalities right.
"Even over Christmas, when other clubs were having a week off, we were running around Westport Lake 20 times.
"It's often hard for a manager to get players to want to do things like that without some things going on behind his back, but there's nobody complaining here.
"We get on with it because we respect the manager and he respects us. It's something he's drilled into us and something that works both ways.
"The players are willing to run through a brick wall for him."
Vale are 12 points clear of the play-off pack ahead of tomorrow's game and, though he's taking nothing for granted, Pope knows Adams will be looking to the future.
"I'm sure the gaffer has a list of players that he might try to sign for next season if we do get promoted," he added.
"But I'm sure we could hold our own in the league above even if he didn't make any new signings in the summer.
"We proved with our performances in the cups that we're more than capable.
"But while we're four points clear at the top, we won't get carried away.
"We'll obviously try to keep the gap as wide as possible, but we won't look too far ahead or stop doing the things we've been doing."