"Obviously, there is some confusion with regard to passing the ball because we did so for the sake of it rather than with any purpose," McGhee said after his side had been booed off the pitch. "In fairness to the players, they have tried to do what I asked of them and we have to get back to the training ground to work hard and get it right."
They lacked ideas and confidence, he added, "but I think we will have enough to get out of any trouble." Reaching the play-offs was another matter.
Andy Porter gave Vale, who were bottom at the beginning of the month, their third consecutive win after a mix up between John De Wolf and Neil Emblen. Next week, Wolves go to Reading, one of McGhee's former clubs, who yesterday denied the leaders Sunderland three points when the 36-year- old joint player/manager Jimmy Quinn hauled himself off the substitutes bench.
The mighty Quinn raced on to a Trevor Morley header and scored an 86th- minute equaliser. Martin Smith's flying header from Andy Melville's centre had given the Roker men a first-half lead.
Another new manager, Howard Kendall, saw his Sheffield United side score both goals at Ipswich. David Tuttle put the Suffolk men ahead when he slid Ian Marshall's cross into his own net, but after a neat move between Carl Veart and David White, Phil Starbuck equalised.
White is on loan from Leeds and Kendall is keen to make the move permanent. "I had him at Manchester City, so I know how good he is," he said. And the Blades' performance overall? "We rolled our sleeves up and did well, but we didn't really look a force going forward."
To score one own-goal, like Tuttle, is unfortunate. But two? Birmingham's goalkeeper Gary Poole and striker Kevin Francis gave Oldham a two-goal lead at Boundary Park before Stuart Barlow and Gunnar Halle completed the 4-0 rout.
Charlton went third after a 2-1 win at Barnsley and Huddersfield hammered West Brom 4-1, Ronnie Jepson scoring twice, to go fourth. Albion have now lost nine games in succession. Stoke were denied a fifth successive victory by Crystal Palace's 2-1 win at the Victoria Ground, but Southend's unbeaten run was stretched to six games when Dave Regis levelled the scores at Grimsby, who are fifth.
In the Second Division, the leaders Swindon were pegged back when a Karl Connolly penalty, his 13th goal of the season, gave Wrexham a point - the beneficiaries were Crewe who won 1-0 at Notts County. Steve Macauley's goal meant they leapfrogged over the Magpies into second. A small ripple for the bottom side Hull who won their first away match of the season, 1-0 at York.
In the Third Division, the top two met as leaders Chester and Preston earned a point when Nick Richardson's 35th-minute goal cancelled out Steve Wilkinson's strike.
Celtic moved to within a point of Rangers in the Scottish Premier, Pierre Van Hooijdonk scored the only goal against Falkirk. Celtic has already won more league games this season than in the whole of 1994-95.
Finally, if you're looking for that last minute Christmas present, give Swansea City chairman Doug Sharpe a call. He offered the Second Division club for sale half-an-hour after yesterday's 4-2 home defeat by Burnley.Reuse content