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MANAGER: It was really tough

8 May 2014

Graham Kavanagh on tough decisions

Manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us about the tough decisions made earlier this week as 11 players were released as the 2013/14 season came to a close.

“It was really tough to make the decisions not to offer contracts because it’s a group of lads who I have become very friendly with over varying periods of time,” he said. “In some cases you know you’re dealing with players who have personal relationships and situations closely tied to Carlisle and it’s a really difficult thing to have to do.”

“However, it’s a part of the job where you have to step back and make the decisions for the good of the club,” he continued. “I looked at what happened this season, and I know this is something I keep coming back to, but we just didn’t have enough leaders in our dressing room.

“I felt we would get a hangover from that next season if we tried to go with the bulk of the same players again. We’ve had situations where we haven’t seen games out, we’ve looked fragile after conceding and we haven’t been strong enough, for whatever reason. 

“That had to be addressed and the only way to do that is to change the mindset of the group. That meant I had to make some of these really tough decisions so that we can bring some new faces in and, hopefully, start the process of changing things for the better.”

“Some of the players will feel hard done by and some won’t,” he confirmed. “I also know that some people will agree with them and some won’t. I spoke to all of the lads individually and I was very honest about what I had to say. All I can stress is that I’ve done what I feel is the best thing for the club to help us to drive forward again next season.

“We’ve just come through a hugely disappointing season and it’s my job to turn that round. All of these lads are great lads, that’s never in doubt, but when you’re dealing with changing a mindset it means that difficult actions have to be taken.

“We want to be challenging at the other end of the table and we want to be successful. In the case of the players released that meant having to think long and hard about how we want to play and how we want to structure the squad going forward. It never comes down to personal issues. It’s always about the club and the squad of players you want at your disposal.”

“I think the biggest consideration for me was that we’ve had a couple of season where we haven’t moved forward in the way we wanted to,” he said. “We’ve had a number of reasons for that and the financial cuts we made last summer certainly didn’t help. 

“At some stage you have to look at what you had, then at what you’ve got, and you have to make a plan for the best way to move forward. I won’t go into specific reasons for individual players but the final decisions were made after a very long and thorough thought process. As I said earlier, some people will think that some players should have stayed, and others will agree. All I can do is make sure I’ve looked at every aspect and know that I’ve made my decision based on the best way forward for Carlisle United.”

“It’s been horrible to see this club get relegated and it’s not nice at all to be part of it,” he said. “That’s happened, we’re all gutted and, like I say, we have to make it right. 

“I’ll now work hard over the next two months to get the best targets we can afford to bring in,” he explained. “I’ll be given details of what I can do in the coming days, budget wise, and we’ll start to work away at making offers and getting players over the line. 

“The process of talking to players and their representatives has started so that we can get a feel for whether we have a chance of getting them up here, or not, and hopefully things will happen quickly for us from there.”

“We already know this is a difficult task because everyone you talk to comments on our location,” he told us. “Speaking to other managers, who have worked here previously, they all tell you that it’s very difficult to attract players because of where we are. 

“That’s fine, but I only want players to come here if they are committed to giving their best for this club. I want to see people who want to get better and who want to progress their careers. I don’t want anyone who will just pick up a wage so they can say they’re a professional footballer. 

“I want a mindset where everyone enjoys coming to work and they look forward to showing everyone else what they can do on a Saturday afternoon. Every player should want to play at a higher level, with us or another club, so we’ll give people the platform to do that if they give us the hard work in return. If we get that then we should see some successful times ahead.”

“The exciting thing going forward is that we’re going to see a new group who will be hungry to play football and take the club to the next level,” he commented. “My job in helping to achieve that is to find the right players to make it happen.

“I do think we’re going to have to go for a different approach to what we had last season and we possibly need to look for one or two who are bigger, stronger and more competitive to deal with the type of football we’ll see in League Two. 

“Having said that, I still want to play football and I want us to entertain our fans as much as possible. Yes, we will have to fight for everything we get but that shouldn’t stop us from playing an attractive game once we’ve got ourselves on top. Ultimately it’s about getting results, so we need to make sure we grab the opportunities which were allowed to pass us by this time round.”

“This is now a massively important period for us,” he agreed. “It’s a big job ahead but I’m looking at it as chance to put things right. I won’t leave any stone unturned in my quest to get the qualities we need into the building so that we can build again.

“I’m the manager of this football club and I know that getting relegated wasn’t nice. The fans didn’t deserve it because they’ve been fantastic for us. It’s for them more than anything that we have to draw a line under it all and push on again.”

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