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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Vale boss spots the difference
By John May

Port Vale manager Martin Foyle
Foyle is attempting to offer something different
Port Vale manager Martin Foyle knows that little things can make a big difference.

Having succeeded Brian Horton in February 2004, Foyle is beginning his third full season in charge.

During that time he has learned quickly those subtle nuances which can bring success.

Foyle said: "A lot of the teams in this league are very much the same.

"There are perhaps five or six teams who might pull away - as for the rest, there are places up for grabs if they can find that little bit of difference to bridge that gap.

"Very often, it's something as simple as scoring the first goal in a game that makes a difference to things like confidence.

"Over the course of a season that can add up to a lot.

We lost 14 players from last season's pre-season photo, which gives you some idea of the big turnover

Port Vale boss Martin Foyle

Foyle is not getting carried away by the fact that Vale sit top of League One after three games, but he admits: "It's also important to get off to a good start.

"It's important to get points on the board and it's a positive start. The benefit of that is that confidence in the camp is high and players on the fringe are desperate to have a part of it."

Foyle is under no illusions that Vale will be among League One's big hitters, but is confident they can be among the predatory chasing pack.

"It might seem a big negative but you have to be realists. Budgets do dictate and the bigger budget can generally buy the better players," says Foyle.

"We had to make big cutbacks from what Brian Horton had, and all credit to the board. They realised what needed to be done and they have steadily built.

"I've sold 1m worth of players in the two-and-a-half years I've been in charge, and I released more players in the summer than I brought in."

Former Port Vale midfielder Chris Birchall
Chris Birchall was sold to help balance the books

"We lost 14 players from last season's pre-season photo, which gives you some idea of the big turnover we've had.

"But all credit to the players who have come in, their attitude has been spot-on, whether they've been in the side or not."

When it comes to attracting players, Foyle again aims to offer something that little bit different, a bespoke service that appeals to those clubs looking to loan their players out.

Foyle says: "We hit the loan market last season and did very well, we took in 11 players on loan last season.

"Premiership clubs have a lot of concerns when they send their young players out on loan.

"They don't want to send their players out to clubs who lump the ball long, that doesn't do the boy any good.

"They want to know if the club loaning him will play him in the right position, will he play enough games?

The 16-year-olds are now thinking twice about going to Premiership clubs

Port Vale boss Martin Foyle

"But word is getting around about us and clubs are happy to send players here."

Vale are also looking to offer that little something different to attract their own youngsters.

The tendency of Premiership club academies to vacuum up all the talent threatens to deprive lower league clubs of an important income source.

Foyle's sales during his time in charge include the likes of Billy Paynter and Dave Hibbert who came through the ranks, while Chris Birchall was recently sold to Coventry after his World Cup exploits with Trinidad & Tobago.

Foyle explained: "The 16-year-olds are now thinking twice about going to Premiership clubs, and hopefully they will come to clubs like us.

"Word gets around that we are not afraid to throw youngsters into the first team if they're good enough, and young lads feel if they get a chance to play regular first-team football here, they can move on.

"I work on honesty and most of the people I know in and around the game know I won't change.

"If a player's not right for us or good enough I will say so.

"Sometimes when you're wheeling and dealing you might tread on somebody's toes if you're after the same player, but if you're up front and honest, the majority of managers are magnificent and have been a great help for me."

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12 Aug 06 |  League One
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08 Aug 06 |  League One
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05 Aug 06 |  League One
Coventry bring in Vale's Birchall
05 Aug 06 |  Coventry City


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