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Loan moves an option for Torquay United's new interim manager Alan Knill

By Herald Express  |  Posted: February 21, 2013


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TORQUAY United will do 'whatever is required' to back new 'interim' manager Alan Knill in his fight to keep the Gulls in the Football League.

Former Rotherham, Bury and Scunthorpe manager Alan Knill will take charge of United for the first time in Saturday's key home game against promotion-chasing Port Vale after being given the job of saving the Gulls from relegation.

Knill, 48, watched United's 1-0 defeat at Aldershot Town on Tuesday night – that was their fifth successive defeat – before being named as 'interim' manager, initially to the end of the season.

Chairman Simon Baker lost no time in stressing: "The board will do everything we can to keep this club in the Football League.

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"Alan knows that, and he has our support to do whatever is required, which will include new loan signings if necessary."

Former Welsh international defender Knill steps in for the ill Martin Ling and will work with Ling's assistant manager Shaun Taylor over the last 14 games of the campaign.

Knill brings the experience of nearly 600 games as a centre-half and more than 300 as a manager, most of them in the lower divisions, to the job of halting the current slump.

Eight of United's final 14 games are at Plainmoor, two of them coming up against second-placed Vale and then Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday night.

The news that former United boss Paul Buckle had resigned "for genuine personal reasons" at Conference club Luton Town on Tuesday sparked fresh speculation that he might return to Plainmoor.

But Buckle is believed to be contemplating a move to the United States, where he did some coaching briefly between jobs at Bristol Rovers and Luton last year.

Anyway, United had already held talks with Knill, who has been looking to get back into management since he was dismissed at Scunthorpe in October.

Baker said that contacts in the game whom they asked about Knill gave him "glowing references".

"He comes across as a very agreeable man, but there is an edge of steel in him, which is what we need," said Baker.

"He also has very good contacts."

Baker also sounded a rallying call to Gulls supporters, urging them to back the club at a hugely important time.

"The arrival of Alan Knill will hopefully galvanise the playing staff into a return of the form we all know they capable of producing," he said.

"It has obviously been a very unusual period for our club, with Martin Ling away on sick leave and his assistant Shaun Taylor left to juggle two jobs.

"Through no fault of anybody, the club has been somewhat thrown into disarray over the last few weeks, but we are confident that the appointment of Alan to fill the managerial vacuum will have a positive effect on all of us.

"We have a proud record at Torquay United of coming together when the pressure mounts.

"Now is one of those occasions, when we all need to get behind the players and the coaching staff.

"Plainmoor can be an absolute fortress when the Yellow Army rises behind the team, and I urge you all to make the atmosphere electric against Port Vale and Wycombe."

Even before the last two 1-0 defeats, at Rochdale and Aldershot, the Gulls' board were resolved that they had to do something to stop the rot.

United have taken only six points from their last eleven games, they are 19th in League Two, five points above the drop-zone.

North London-based Ling, 46, is still receiving specialist care for what United have described as "a debilitating illness".

He is reported to be making some progress.

United will make no decision about Ling's future with them until the summer at the earliest.

"We will cross that bridge when it comes, but our focus at the moment is between now and April 27."

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