The decision as to who would replace Steve Chettle at Ilkeston Town was a huge one for owner and chairman Alan Hardy to make.
There was plenty of interest in the job, unsurprising given the way the Robins are moving forward, but taking over at a club that is in extremely good form and at the top-of-the-table is arguably much more difficult than if the club is at the bottom and struggling, so it needed to be someone who wouldn’t be fazed by that challenge.
Martin McIntosh is the chosen one and has behind him a good playing career at a high level of the game and seven years of managerial experience at Worksop and Buxton.
I know McIntosh well having spoken to him regularly during his time at Buxton, and as a person he’s always been a pleasure to deal with.
He’s coached many good players who have gone on to have good careers higher up the leagues and did well at Buxton on what were competitive but not necessarily the biggest budgets in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
But he’s been the first to admit that it’s been strange coming into a winning environment and with that will come great pressure. Does he change things to suit his own style and risk results taking a dip, or does he go with what’s worked up to now in a tactical and personnel sense?
The initial vibe is that he’ll take the latter stance, that being made easier given the continued presence of Ian Deakin, Craig Swinscoe and Simon Bryant who coached under Chettle and are familiar with the team.
But over time, any tweaks that will inevitably be required will fall to McIntosh and he should be judged more on those and the results of them rather than how things may go in the opening two or three weeks.
Saturday’s defeat was of course disappointing but perhaps there was an air of inevitability about it given the changes that have happened; the famous ‘new manager effect’ is usually far more evident among teams that have previously been struggling than those who have been winning most weeks.
Ilkeston fans are never slow to get their vocal chords warmed up for a verbal bashing should things not be going well but I’d hope patience will be afforded to McIntosh as he takes on this considerable challenge. Promotion this season isn’t top of the list for Alan Hardy - it’s a far more realistic expectation for next season - but there’s no reason why McIntosh and the current crop of players can’t continue to build positively on the excellent foundations laid down in the last year.