‘I think Ian is a very good fit from the club’s perspective and hopefully we are a good fit for him’ – Cleeve on Culverhouse
PUBLISHED: 20:40 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 20:40 16 January 2020
Stephen Cleeve hailed Ian Culverhouse as the perfect managerial fit for King’s Lynn Town - and then continued his efforts to strengthen his manager’s promotion ambitions.
The Linnets owner is hoping to announce a new signing on Friday after agreeing a new contract with his manager - with another player to follow as Lynn look to hold on to their advantage at the top of the National League North.
"We would like to bring a couple of players in within the next few days," said Cleeve. "We have got one we hope to have put to bed, and we have got another one we are looking at - we are hoping to bolster it by two. "We have been a bit short recently here and there - injuries, suspensions, players being cup-tied - so we need to do it. It is not always in our hands - there is another club, a player in the middle and sometimes an agent as well."
Culverhouse wanted reinforcements and Cleeve looks to have delivered. Next on the shopping list will be sorting a proper home training base, with Cleeve due to discuss that little issue with the local council later this month.
But add those to the recent appointment of a full-time commercial manager and work being done to the ground, and it is clear that Culverhouse can see the off-pitch work matching his endeavours on the pitch. And that, of course is where it is all most visible - or, in Culverhouse's case, shining brightly.
No one expected when they looked at the fixture list last summer that when York came to town on Saturday it would be a game between first and second in the table, with Lynn holding the advantage. But Culverhouse, having been so near yet so far in his first stint as manager when Lynn lost a promotion play-off final, has performed miracles in the second chapter of the story.
After Culverhouse infamously left The Walks in the summer of 2018, his replacement, Simon Clark struggled, despite impressive coaching qualifications. Back came Culverhouse - and back came success.
Sometimes, it just clicks.
"The guy in the middle was a hard-working guy, but the fit wasn't happening," admitted Cleeve. "That's the thing with football - you get some players who turn it on with one club and not another and it doesn't quite work. It's the same with managers sometimes. It doesn't make any sense, it is just one of those football curiosities. I think Ian is a very good fit from the club's perspective and hopefully we are a good fit for him
"But with Ian, the whole thing is a good fit. and it works both way in a mutually beneficial relationship."
Of course, if Lynn continue their upward trajectory, it won't just be players like striker Adam Marriott who will be attracting the attentions of suitors: Culverhouse's name has already been mentioned in despatches, some of which may be guesswork, some of which may have some basis in fact. Truth is, other clubs wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't cast admiring glances towards west Norfolk. So a two and a half year contract gives security to all parties. Cleeve takes a philosophical view of the possible pitfalls of success,
"I would never want to stand in someone's way, that is not the sort of chap I am," he said. "I would want someone to progress, but equally I want this club to progress. If we get promoted this year and the summer comes along it gives us a little bit of security, and it helps bring players in. They want to know how long a manager is going to be here.
"I believe the manager is the right guy to have at this football club for a long, long time. I do feel if we get promoted who knows what is going to happen? You expect him to be wanted man, logically, he has to be and if he is then the security for the club has to be a good thing.
"From Ian's perspective I think he likes to have the expression, to be able to control his area, and we give him that. I don't like micro-managing anything so clearly his area is there and you let him express himself and I think that is one of the reasons he likes the club."
It's hard to find a time when Culverhouse has taken any of the plaudits that have come his way. He doesn't shout from the rooftops - a CV that includes top flight and European competition as a player and coaching Norwich City and Aston Villa in the Premier League means the trumpet stays in the box. "It is about the players," he says. "And the good thing here is we look to improve the squad every year."
Culverhouse and Cleeve - clearly plotting a bright future, together.