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Refreshed Alan Knill ready for Torquay United challenge

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 22, 2013

Picture by Phil Mingo Pinnacle

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Alan Knill says that an enforced mid-season break has sharpened his appetite for management again, as he tackles the job of halting Torquay United's slide towards the League Two relegation zone.

The Gulls' new 'interim' manager said: "I've been out of work for three months, but I've seen a lot of football and it's made a refreshing change to do that without any pressure.

"I'd had eight years really full-on, and that affects you – I didn't notice it at the time, but people around me did.

"The break has done me good. It gives you time to breathe," said Knill, 48, who was sacked by Scunthorpe United in October, after previous spells as manager of Rotherham United and, most successfully, Bury.

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"You can't fight everything, and I've had a chance to look at myself and the way that I work and reassess things.

"I needed a change of environment. But I still know the players and the teams at this level, and how they play."

Former Wales international centre-half Knill, who played nearly 600 games for Halifax, Swansea, Bury, Scunthorpe and Rotherham before turning to management, stressed that he's only standing in for his "friend" Martin Ling, who is on extended sick leave.

"Martin is someone I know and is a friend of mine. I hope he gets well really quickly and returns to work," he said.

"In the meantime, I'm trying to look after his team. He's the manager of the football club."

Knill is confident that he and Ling's assistant Shaun Taylor, who has run the side for the last six games, will work well together.

"I have met Shaun before on the football circuit – hopefully he and Martin are back together before too long – and he's an honest guy who will have his opinions. I'll have mine, and if we disagree, we disagree.

"As long as it's for the best, for the club and the players, that's fine."

Knill, who ran the rule over United in Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at Aldershot, will watch tomorrow's home game against second-placed Port Vale closely before deciding on his first moves into the loan transfer market.

Chairman Simon Baker has already stated that his board are prepared to "do whatever is required" to give Knill the players he needs to keep United up.

But Knill said: "I think it's important that you are seen to be trying to make things better, so I will assess the current squad first.

"I am quite sure that the team can compete – it has done before and it will do again. If we do, we will give ourselves a chance.

"It would be easy to say I am going to do this and do that, but it's not always as easy to do.

"I was a reluctant manager at first – I am really a coach. People know that I am going to try my best to develop young players.

"That's why I've been fortunate to get players from Premier League clubs in the past.

"And whether it's Torquay or Bury or Scunthorpe, I don't think logistics should have too much to do with it."

Knill, who knows Gulls defender Aaron Downes from a spell he had coaching at Chesterfield six years ago, is confident that United can stay up. "There are 14 games to go, and there are clubs in far worse positions than us," he said.

"Throughout the season everybody goes on a poor run. It happens to be us at the moment.

"But one win can spark a change. It can quickly turn around."

Baker revealed: "A couple of high-profile names offered to help out a couple of days a week, but that wasn't what we were looking for.

"But Alan got glowing references from everyone we asked about him, including the chairmen of his three previous clubs. He's been incredibly generous in terms of his time, and we've been really knocked out by his approach.

"After we beat Exeter, we gave Shaun a couple more games. In an ideal world, if Shaun had got the results, we probably wouldn't be sitting here as we are.

"But when we saw that it didn't seem to be going the right way, we began the process which led to Alan being here. Shaun understands that."

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