The Andrew Steele-Davis Column: Why Ling is the right man at the right time for Town

©Calyx Picture Agency Martin Ling
New Swindon Town boss Martin Ling pictured at his unveiling (PIC: Richard Wintle)

In the wake of Martin Ling being unveiled as Swindon Town’s new manager on Tuesday, FLIC’s Sports Editor Andrew Steele-Davis explains why he is the right man at the right time for the Robins. 

For once I am disappointed I am not a little older. Why I hear you ask? Well, simply put, I feel like I have missed out by not seeing Martin Ling in action.

As soon as he was announced as the new Swindon Town boss yesterday morning, there were plenty of YouTube clips doing the rounds of the new gaffer in action during his playing days at SN1.

He will always go down in Town folklore for playing a vital role in helping the club gain promotion to the Premier League, the only Swindon side to have achieved that feat so far.

Ling was widely regarded as a classy operator during his time as a player at The County Ground, a brilliant manipulator of the ball and always capable of producing a moment of magic.

I have no doubt in my mind that Martin Ling will enjoy the same success as Swindon manager as he did as a player.

He’s the perfect fit in my opinion, in more ways than one.

Firstly, he’s passionate about the club and the task that awaits him. Listening to him at his press conference on Tuesday morning, you could tell and see how delighted he was to be back at the club that holds so many fond memories for him.

He was open about how much Town means to him and that can only be a good thing, you can bet your bottom dollar that he’ll be putting his heart and soul into it.

Ling has also got a point to prove.

It is well documented that the former Leyton Orient Boss has suffered with depression, an illness that cost him his job at Torquay United.

That was two-and-a-half-years ago but, reading some of the comments on social media yesterday, you would think he’s still battling with it.

Some, and I stress the word some, were quick to write off Ling before the ink had even dried on his contract simply because of his past.

Ling has been open and remarkably honest about his battle with depression, which isn’t an easy thing to do, trust me.

I’ve been there and got the dreaded t-shirt so to speak. It’s a horrible illness and one that I don’t think is always taken seriously.

But it is an illness you can come back from.

I did and I would like to think I’m doing okay now.

Martin has been in full-time employment for the vast majority of the time since being sacked by Torquay, a fact some people seem to forget.

Ling’s depression was discussed with Lee Power at length during the interview process, and I think we should all trust the Chairman’s judgement on this one.

On BBC Wiltshire’s fans’ phone-in last night Ling admitted that the thought of not getting back into management had crossed his mind, with depression acting as a “coffee stain” on his CV.

There is no doubt that some will continue to use his past against him, especially if his rein at Town fails to get off to a bright start.

But, listening to Ling speak yesterday with enthusiasm and real excitement, I’m certain that he’s eager, hungry and determined to prove why he was Town’s and Power’s number one target.

Finally, and perhaps the most important factor in any success Ling might enjoy at SN1, is his relationship with Luke Williams and his understanding and acceptance of his remit.

Ling made it very clear in his press conference yesterday that he is a “manager-coach,” in other words he’ll leave Williams to sprinkle his magic on the training ground.

It was clear that Mark Cooper and Williams didn’t get on, there was an obvious rift there and that escalated when the former tried to become more of a pivotal figure during training.

By appointing Ling, Power has ensured that lightning won’t strike twice.

Ling and Williams have been close friends since their days at Orient, where the latter, then in charge of the U14s, coached Ling’s son Sam.

The two have stayed in touch since through Ross Embleton, who looks set to be reunited with the duo at SN1 in the near future.

Should Embleton agree on personal terms to become the latest member of Town’s restructured coaching staff, then that will only serve to help make Ling’s job easier.

Ling was also quick to laugh at the hype surrounding Power’s involvement in footballing matters at The County Ground, stating that it was a model he worked and thrived under during his successful spell at Orient.

All in all, yesterday should be seen as the start of a bright new era at Swindon Town, one that will hopefully bring the good times back to this part of the country.

Ling was an instrumental figure the last time this club scaled the heights of English football, and I’m sure he’s the right man to help Swindon Town create another memorable chapter in their history.

 

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