John Askey has represented Macclesfield Town in various capacities – and led them to the National League title in 2017-18.

Now, he returns to Moss Rose for a re-union as Port Vale manager in League Two Gameweek 13.

 

Tough times for Macclesfield

It looks like being a difficult season for Macclesfield, who avoided relegation last season only on the final day.

There have been cashflow problems at the club which Sol Campbell handled very well, up to his resignation as manager in August.

It remains to be seen whether Daryl McMahon, who heads a coaching team involving mainstay Danny Whitaker, can do as well.

On the one hand, McMahon has greater managerial credentials than Campbell did this time last year due to his achievements with Ebbsfleet United, but on the other, he is not of the same status within the game – and the financial problems he has to deal with are arguably worse than they were last season.

One player who has been able to shine amid all the chaos has been Emmanuel Osadebe.

After struggling at Gillingham and Cambridge, this could have been one of the midfielder’s final few chances to preserve a career in the EFL – and he is taking it.

Osadebe has always had some athleticism but at times, his desire to use it to maximum effect has been in question; the 22-year-old though is defying his doubters by bringing plenty of attacking qualities to Moss Rose.

 

Stability at Port Vale

In contrast with the mayhem at Macclesfield, Port Vale look a much steadier ship.

The summer brought a much-needed end to Norman Smurthwaite’s ill-fated ownership regime; Carol and Kevin Shanahan, Vale fans who know the area and love the club, have brought some welcome stability.

Some of the credit for that must go to John Askey.

The 54-year-old has directed improved performances on the pitch and, not only did they stay up last season from a position of uncertainty, they have started the current campaign with just three league defeats in 12 after last week’s 3-1 victory over Morecambe.

In the second half of that match, albeit with a numerical advantage, they showed their main strengths: industrious hassling, a willingness to get crosses into the box as well as a strong aerial and goalscoring presence with Tom Pope up top.

The Valiants possess creative influences out wide in David Amoo, who has started brightly, and silky winger David Worrall, who is hoping to add consistency this term.

 

The Tactics Board

James Gibbons is back from injury for Vale and the academy graduate is arguably too strong for Askey to leave out of his starting XI.

We could therefore see Will Atkinson – who deputized at right-back last time out – move into a more natural role on the right of a three-man midfield ahead of Scott Burgess.

The manager is very much a 4-3-3 disciple – he has started with that formation in every game barring September’s 2-2 draw with Mansfield.

In the first half, we could see Pope struggle to get the better of three centre-backs in Miles Welch-Hayes, Fiacre Kelleher and Theo Vassell – Macclesfield have used a 3-4-1-2 in all their games apart from the 3-0 loss at Swindon.

Equally, it’s hard to see the Silkmen showing much quality on the ball – even when they are doing the defensive side well.

Askey, though, is not averse to changing to 4-4-2 mid-game by replacing a midfielder with tall striker Richie Bennett, who made a crucial difference from the bench last time out – we could see a similar theme here.

 

The Betting Angle

Those keen on backing a chunky price might be tempted by the 5/1 on the Half-Time/Full-Time: Draw/Port Vale.

We though, see enough value in the 11/8 on the outright Port Vale win to make that our best bet.

Port Vale to win 11/8

Any odds mentioned in this article are correct at the time of posting

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