Thursday 6 August ~
Brian Clough famously lasted 44 days at Leeds, while Leroy Rosenior’s second spell at Torquay was over within ten minutes. In terms of short-lived managerial appointments, Martin Ling is somewhere in between, having called time on his eight-day reign as Cambridge United boss after Monday night’s 2-1 defeat to Histon in the Cambs Professional Cup final.
Ling’s resignation should have come as no surprise to fans of the Blue Square Premier club, as managers tend not to last long at the Abbey Stadium after losing out in finals. Previous bosses Jimmy Quinn and Gary Brabin both departed after play-off final defeats at Wembley, and it had been hoped that Ling’s appointment would signal a new era for a club that has now gone through ten managers in the last ten years. Like Brabin before him, Ling’s departure was brought about by “irreconcilable differences” with forthright club chairman George Rolls, and this week fans and major shareholder Paul Barry turned on Rolls, leading to him and vice-chairman Terry Baker resigning yesterday.
It is a sad end to Rolls’s reign. The 34-year-old has undoubtedly done some good work behind the scenes at the club, but his questionable people skills, and habit of engaging mouth before brain, led to a total breakdown in communications with Brabin. In the week leading up to Brabin’s departure, the pair embarked on a thoroughly undistinguished slanging match in the local press, with the manager unhappy that his budget for the coming season had been slashed. Rolls and his fellow directors eventually gave Brabin the boot and, following a two-week interview process, installed Ling on a three-year contract last Monday.
All looked set fair for the new season, until it emerged that Ling wasn’t the only one to be offered the job. Rolls reportedly also summoned former U’s coach Alan Lewer and Ebbsfleet boss Liam Daish to Cambridge last Monday, promising both that they would be named the new Cambridge manager later that day. Of course only Ling was unveiled with the other two candidates apparently being informed of this via text message. Rolls denies this, but it is thought that when Ling got wind of the bizarre scenario he decided to get out with his reputation intact.
The news has left Cambridge fans contemplating another managerial change, and more upheaval in the boardroom, just days before the new league campaign kicks off against Barrow. They could be forgiven for shooting an envious glance across the A14 at new kids on the block, Histon. Their manager, United playing legend Steve Fallon, has just celebrated a decade in charge, having overseen four promotions in that time. What Cambridge would do for such stability. Matthew Gooding