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Thursday, 23 November, 2000, 14:03 GMT
The strife of Brian
Brian Horton
The net looks to be closing in on Brian Horton
Port Vale manager Brian Horton is being asked to add another string to his bow and fill out player rating questionnaires.

Alongside his roles in the dug-out, on the training pitch, facing the media and dealing in the transfer market, Horton will now have to fill out complex appraisal forms on his squad.

This latest revelation, coming hot on the heels of the club's FA Cup draw with non-league Canvey Island, is part of an ongoing row between Horton and Port Vale's board of directors.

Many supporters regard this as an attempt by chairman Bill Bell to force his manager out following the club's relegation to Division Two.

Free afternoons

Club director Charles Machin, who helped formulate the questionnaire, believes it is essential to monitor the players if the Valiants are to progress.

Jeff Minton and Paul Smith
Port Vale were unable to get the better of Canvey Island in their FA Cup tie
"I am not any director, we are not any club and we want to take Port Vale forward in the 21st century.

"My concern is the players are important assets of the club and need looking after. It is important to ensure their professional career development is looked after as much as possible."

Now the board of directors have come up with the questionnaires, which have more than 60 categories, as a means of keeping tabs on their squad's progress.

Horton will be asked to present information on his players on over 60 categories, including sections on their attitude, discipline, courage, honesty and sense of humour, at fortnightly board meetings.

Machin added: "No doubt I will get flak for asking the manager to work too hard, but he gets afternoons off."

Support

Horton has received support from the League Managers Association chief executive John Barnwell who is amazed at the latest development at Vale Park.

"I have never come across something like this before. Player assessments are done for the advantage of a manager, not by them."

Horton left Brighton for Port Vale to replace John Rudge, and the LMA, who are backing him, have asked the board of directors to honour the three-year contract he signed on his arrival in January 1999.

Vale, who are currently 20th in Division Two, entertain fellow strugglers Luton Town prior to their FA Cup replay with Canvey Island on November 28, which is also at Vale Park.

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