If Micky Adams’ managerial career was a rollercoaster ride – which it has resembled at times – then his current spell at England League Two side Port Vale – the country’s fourth tier – would be one of the highs. Adams has endured some struggles, but has landed on his feet at Vale Park.

When the 49-year-old accepted the job back in the summer of 2009, he claimed the club needed "stability and somebody to put building blocks down". Expectations were raised, but Port Vale finished the 2009/10 campaign in tenth, four points outside the playoff spots.

But it was always going to take time to turn Vale in to title contenders. This season, Adams is proving to be that ‘somebody’ he mentioned 18 months ago, with his players blossoming and sitting in the thick of the promotion race. At the time of writing, Vale are top of the table – though just five points separate first and fifth.

Adams’ straight-talking approach has built a strong team spirit and, as a former defender, it should come as no surprise that his defence has performed heroically. In 18 league games, the Vale backline has conceded a measly nine goals. It is on this solid platform that the title push has been built.

At the other end, Port Vale’s strikers are beginning to find a groove after some disappointing wastefulness in front of goal earlier in the campaign. The strikeforce of Justin Richards and Marc Richards has now combined for 22 goals in all competitions and they stole the show in the recent 5-0 romp against Stockport County.


It is a long season and the campaign has not reached the hectic Christmas period yet – but, under Adams’ guidance, Vale are poised to take the first step in climbing the leagues and returning to the prominence they enjoyed back in the 1990s.

Adams has not always enjoyed such success, though. In fact, there has been a mix of highs and lows in his 14 years as a manager. While some see him as one of England’s unsung bosses, he has had his fair share of problems in the managerial hotseat, beginning at Fulham where he was the casualty that brought in the Kevin Keegan era. This was followed by short, forgettable stops at Swansea and Brentford.

But at Brighton, Adams found the winning formula, dragging the cash-strapped club into Division Two as champions. The achievement put him on the map and earned him the assistant manager’s job at Leicester City in the Premiership. When the Foxes were relegated in 2002, Adams took over in the hotseat and, just as he had done at Brighton, formed a resilient squad. Leicester finished second and jumped back into the top flight.

Adams was proclaimed a genius, but the Foxes struggled on their return to the top division, dropping straight back to the second tier. With problems mounting, Adams left Leicester in October 2004. He then joined Coventry but, in his two years in the job, could not repeat the promotion heroics. And a return to Brighton was also unsuccessful – Adams left the Seagulls in February 2009 after nine months in charge.

That opened the door for Vale to swoop and take a gamble on a man who has tasted success and disappointment in equal measure as a manager. It was shrewd move and both Adams and Vale are reaping the rewards of this partnership. The future could yet be even brighter, with reports suggesting millionaire businessman Mo Chaudry is considering investing
in the club.

Only time will tell whether this season can be added to the ‘success’ portion of Adams’ managerial career – but the signs are very promising. Vale have been consistent at home and on their travels, earning 19 of their 36 points away from Vale Park, and look genuine promotion contenders. Plus, their upcoming fixture list does not appear too daunting, with games against lowly Morecambe, Barnet and Lincoln City as well as a Gillingham side that is only marginally better than that trio. By the New Year, Adams’ men could be well set to make League One football a reality.

Adams is a likeable character who knows what it takes to win the race for promotion and he has passed on his gutsy personality to his players, recently admitting he is "an old school manager". Vale have all the qualities required for the tests ahead and, come May, the club could be playing a little closer to where they, and Adams, believe they belong.