Martin Ling knows success will come when Torquay United attain consistent displays
Although he has a flutter every now and then, and his dad worked for a bookie for many years, Martin Ling is not what you would call a gambling man.
However, he knows a good bet when he sees one – and, just as important, one to avoid.
In the build-up to today's home game against Morecambe, Ling was talking about inconsistency, not just as it applied to his own team, but the whole of League Two.
"If you look at this league, the only teams who you'd really call consistent are the top-two and, maybe, the bottom-two," said Ling.
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"And if you like a fixed-odds bet on a Saturday, you're better off leaving League Two at home at the moment."
The Gulls themselves have played six of the top seven clubs so far, and only Rotherham have beaten them, 1-0 on a below-par day at the New York Stadium.
United have defeated leaders Gillingham, drawn away to Port Vale (second) and Fleetwood (third) and at home to Cheltenham and routed Rochdale (4-2).
Yet they have lost to Bristol Rovers and Wycombe Wanderers, both in the bottom five. "Most of it is played between the players' ears – a lot is a mind game," said Ling.
The main reason to be cheerful at Plainmoor is that United have looked a good side on their best days, and Ling says: "I feel that the consistency will come."
The Gulls' boss knows that inexperience and inconsistency go hand-in-hand.
Lower division managers down the decades have often been fierce fellows who terrorised their young players into doing exactly what they were told and nothing more, or nice guys who waited more patiently for talent to mature.
If you can strike the difficult balance between the two, you are something of a genius, and the sack often awaits those men who get it even slightly wrong.
Two of the best players to wear a Torquay shirt in recent memory were midfielders Alex Russell and Chris Hargreaves.
They were both excellent in their different ways, but if you watched them every week, you came to realise that what made them so effective was not just what they did on the pitch, but what they did not do.
If Russell, a consummate passer, could not see a penetrating ball on, he would not go for it, patiently keeping possession with simpler passes until the moment came to hit the "killer".
Hargreaves, physically stronger in the air and on the ground, would seldom try anything he knew he could not do, something he had learned the hard way over a long, tough career.
It is not a coincidence that, at Plainmoor, Ling gets seven or eight out of ten most weeks from older players like Brian Saah, Aaron Downes, Kevin Nicholson and Lee Mansell.
United's fate this season will hang on how close his younger players, and there are some talented ones among them, get to that consistency.