Delicate situation calls for unique individual to join Torquay United backroom
Professional football is a relentless taskmaster. It waits for no mishap or misfortune and has little regard for sentiment.
One of Martin Ling's favourite quotes is, 'No matter how you're doing, always assume there's a problem lurking round the next corner'.
No one at Torquay United dreamed, less than three weeks ago, that their manager was about to fall ill. And when they beat Exeter City at St James' Park without him at the helm, everyone at Plainmoor hoped and assumed that he would be back within a week or two to lead the Gulls towards another tilt at the League Two play-offs.
Three defeats and considerable heartache later and Ling is clearly not coming back in the foreseeable future, so the Gulls urgently need to stop the rot without him.
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In a situation like this, any board is in a perilous position.
They can hardly do nothing, for the wellbeing and future of the club is the first priority. They have already proved their regard and affection for Ling by the way they have tried to hold public interest at arm's length with precious little real information about his condition.
There is genuine respect, too, for Ling's coaching staff of Shaun Taylor and Kenny Veysey.
Taylor is much too loyal and honest a character to have tried to put his own stamp on things before now, because he's basically been looking after the team of his boss and friend.
That's not to say that he wouldn't start shaking things up a little, now that he knows Ling won't be around for a while.
But United have decided, for right or wrong, that it's asking too much for Taylor to shoulder the weight of his and Ling's duties in one, with a team that's won only once in ten games and is struggling to score goals.
It is a delicate situation, to say the least.
The most important process won't necessarily be in recruiting a new man – there are plenty of well-qualified and available figures out there – but in the relationship that he and United's current backroom staff forge in their first days and weeks together.
An appointment, whatever title is attached to it, is expected as early as next week, and there'll plenty of eyes peeled at Spotland this afternoon for any likely candidates who may be having a look at the job in hand.