The release of the retained list a few days after the final game of the season is always a bittersweet moment.
Irrespective of the team’s achievements, there are sure to be half a dozen players moving on from Vale Park and it is worth reflecting briefly on their contribution.
I wasn’t surprised that manager Micky Adams had decided not to offer new deals to Darren Purse, Clayton McDonald, Kingsley James and Calvin Andrew.
However, they should all be thanked for the part they played in helping the Vale to achieve a remarkable promotion to League One.
If anything, I was a little surprised that a couple more players weren’t released.
However, we should bear in mind that Micky Adams has to tread that fine line between shaping a squad capable of competing at a higher level while somehow retaining the integrity, harmony and spirit of a promotion-winning dressing room.
He also, of course, has to weigh up which players from the season that has just ended would make decent squad players – providing cover for certain positions.
We may find it difficult to keep hold of left back Dan Jones, given that a number of other clubs have shown an interest in him.
In addition, some of those offered new deals may decide to try their luck somewhere else and so the four that have gone may well become six or eight in the coming weeks.
So where do Vale need to strengthen?
For me, it is vital that we bring in a quick, strong centre half – preferably two – as our defence has at times been exposed for pace.
If Dan Jones were to go then a specialist left back would also be a priority for me – even if Doug Loft, Rob Taylor and Adam Yates are capable of being the square pegs in that round hole.
In the centre of the park, I was delighted to hear that Sam Morsy (who I rate) had been offered a new deal and I hope he chooses to stay.
However, I think we need a playmaker – someone able to spray the ball around and deliver that killer pass for the strikers or wingers to latch on to.
Up front, we have plenty of options with the Pontiff, the evergreen Lee Hughes, Ben Williamson and Louis Dodds.
However, given Hughes’s age, and the fact that both Dodds and Williamson are often used as midfielders or even as makeshift wingers, I’d be tempted to bring in another striker – preferably one with with a bit of pace.
Every Vale fan will have his or her opinion on what we need, but how nice it is to be able to sit here with the summer ahead of us awaiting the announcement of new arrivals.
And dunna fret. August will be here soon enough…
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