A FORMIDABLE team spirit has been key to Ilfracombe Town's success in recent seasons.
And that could leave Ross Middleton facing some tough decisions now he is manager.
The midfielder was part of a close-knit unit built by former boss Barry Yeo – a team of mates, not just team-mates.
Their unity helped make Ilfracombe one of the toughest sides to beat in the Toolstation Western League, where they finished third in both 2009-10 and 2010-11 as well as winning the Les Phillips Cup last year.
Middleton, preparing for his first season in charge after Yeo stepped down in April, must cope with the transition from being one of the lads to the boss.
"We will see (how that goes)," he said. "The boys have all been brilliant.
"Obviously I have got to make decisions, which will be the tricky part, telling some of your mates they are not playing, but I'm sure they will understand.
"We have been successful over the last few years, although last season was a bit of a transition with youngsters coming in.
"That's one of the reasons why it is good to take the job on now, there is a great squad there to work with and I will look to bring some more players in."
Middleton, who turned 31 last month and recently became a father with the birth of his son, McKinley, admitted he did not expect to move into management so soon and intends to continue playing.
"I'm not ready to hang the boots up yet but if someone comes in and is doing better than me I will step aside," he said.
"Being a manager was something I had been thinking about.
"I always thought I would look towards it as I got older.
"I wasn't expecting it right now but, with Yeoy resigning, the chance was there."
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