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Neil Aspin takes a look back on his year in charge at Vale

4 October 2018

It's safe to say when Neil Aspin was appointed the new manager of Port Vale Football Club this time last year, he had a mammoth of a task ahead of him.

The Valiants sat in the relegation zone having picked up just one win in the opening 12 matches, with that one win coming on the opening day. A 3-1 win away to Crawley Town.

It was a team that needed fresh leadership and a new approach after such a disastrous start to life in League Two having just been relegated. Grimsby spoiled any hopes of a dream start for Neil but having had the squad for just a few days, it was always going to be tough to start with. But this was followed by three wins in a row to lift spirits around the club and Vale in the league table.

Sitting down for his press conference today, Neil Aspin took time to reflect on the highs and lows of his first 365 days in charge and for good or bad, what stood out for him.

"I think it's been difficult. I expected it to be with lots of things to contend with in the year. There's been a lot of times where you felt like you were banging your head against a brick wall! I don't think there's many people who get a job at this level where it's plain sailing or a bed of roses. 

"Certainly in terms of coming off the game and having the feeling of satisfaction, it would have to be the Luton game. We played particularly well, the atmosphere was great and it was a lovely feeling after the game. Of course if we could've maintained that and played to that standard, football would be an easy job! Certainly driving home after that match it was a really good feeling as was the Crewe game this season too...

"There's been a lot of tough moments. Trying to get the number of points so you're safe took a lot of getting, that was a difficult period. The last 20 minutes of the Cheltenham game was the worst I've ever seen us play, that was hard to watch as was the Cambridge game. The personal low point was when Yeovil equalised in injury time in the FA Cup because we dominated that game, that made me particularly sick!"

It's quite a spooky coincidence this weekend that we play Grimsby Town, as it was Neil's first ever game in charge of the Vale only that time the fixture was played at Vale Park.

Heading into it, the manager will be forced to rotate the squad after going four consecutive league games with the same starting XI. Injuries picked up by Manny Oyeleke and Cristian Montano means Neil will look to others to step up the plate on Saturday.

With a busy fixture list this October, manager Neil Aspin accepts the Vale will have to adapt to the injury situation as he looks to put out his best line-up against Grimsby.

"You want to be picking from a full strength squad. Obviously, you have to try and put out your best team but it's something we're just going to have to cope with.

"We'll have to look at what team we can play Saturday, but certainly when you're trying to pick a settled team it's disappointing when you get injuries and you can't do that."

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