Swin­don Town’s new boss Martin Ling on why he’s a bet­ter boss now

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

NEW Swin­don Town boss Martin Ling says his six­month spell in “the dark­ness” can be turned to the Robins’ ad­van­tage.

Ling, 49, was di­ag­nosed with de­pres­sion in early 2013 and spent time in the Pri­ory be­fore mak­ing a re­cov­ery. How­ever, he was dis­missed by Torquay whilst on sick leave and sub­se­quently spent more than two years out of the game. Now Robins chair­man Lee Power has of­fered a route back at the club where Ling en­joyed leg­endary sta­tus as a player – and the former Ley­ton Ori­ent boss says he won’t re­gret it. “I’m a bet­ter man­ager now than I was be­fore,” in­sists Ling, who re­places Mark Cooper at the County Ground.“A lot of foot­ball is played be­tween the ears. And when you’ve been into the dark­ness, it forces you to re-eval­u­ate the brain as a tool.

“Now I’ve learned to cope with de­pres­sion, I think I un­der­stand what goes on be­tween the ears a lot bet­ter than I did be­fore .When you’re deal­ing with a group of men in high pres­sure jobs, that can only be a help.”

Did Power need re­as­sur­ing the de­pres­sion was gone? “Of course,” he adds. “He asked straight ques­tions, I spoke to him openly and hon­estly about my ill­ness. It’s out there in the pub­lic do­main so I wasn’t go­ing in there try­ing to hide any­thing.


“He didn’t let that cloud his judge­ment and I’m re­ally pleased he didn’t. An aw­ful lot of peo­ple have suf­fered from de­pres­sion and gone back to work. Why should I be dif­fer­ent?”

Part of the fa­mous Swin­don side that won pro­mo­tion to the Pre­mier League un­der Glenn Hod­dle in 1993, Ling says re­turn­ing to the County Ground brought mem­o­ries flood­ing back.

“Walk­ing round the place was pretty sur­real,” says Ling, who played 186 times for the Robins be­fore leav­ing to join Ori­ent in 1996.“Es­pe­cially see­ing pic­tures of my­self cel­e­brat­ing on the walls.

“The dress­ing rooms haven’t moved; the shower room hasn’t changed. The only thing they seem to have done is put a few lock­ers in. It was a bit like go­ing back in time.

“It was a mas­sively good time un­der Glenn.We played a brand of foot­ball that was pretty rare, a 35-2 for­ma­tion which he’d brought over from Monaco. We passed and moved, kept the ball down. It was all pretty rev­o­lu­tion­ary at the time.

“It was the most pro­duc­tive time in my ca­reer and def­i­nitely bet­ter than my first spell at Swin­don un­der Lou Macari. Thank­fully, peo­ple tend to for­get that one!”

Beaten play-off fi­nal­ists last year, the Robins have won just three matches all sea­son and sat 23rd head­ing into the week­end.

Con­cern has also been raised over the club’s trans­fer struc­ture. Link-ups with Spurs and Liver­pool have seen the club flooded with young loa­nees and it was ru­moured that Cooper had lim­ited author­ity over both trans­fer pol­icy and team se­lec­tion – an ac­cu­sa­tion Ling re­futes.

“Yes, Lee has a big say in the ins and outs,” he added. “But it’s an open fo­rum and we all have a say. I won’t get play­ers dropped on me that I know noth­ing about or don’t want.

“Peo­ple say it’s a strange struc­ture but I think it’s been blown out of pro­por­tion. No-one men­tioned it last year be­cause it was very suc­cess­ful.


“When the team were win­ning games, it was a great struc­ture. Be­cause they started to lose, peo­ple be­gan to ques­tion it. Per­son­ally, I’m very com­fort­able deal­ing with it.”

And Ling is equally un­con­cerned about the po­ten­tial for ter­race jibes.

“Foot­ball fans can be cruel,” he added. “I know what may come my way. But it’ll be no dif­fer­ent to what any other man­ager faces. De­pres­sion is part of who I am and I’ll take what­ever comes.

“I can’t wait to get back – back to the mobile go­ing mad, back the email go­ing mad. It’s nice to be back in that mad, mad world.”

Chris Wood cel­e­brates scor­ing for Leeds at Hud­der­s­field – Page 21

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

FORMER GLO­RIES: Ling dur­ing his suc­cess­ful Swin­don play­ing days PRE­PARED: Martin Ling is rar­ing to go at Swin­don af­ter his break and, in­set, he’s un­veiled

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