Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about the summer recruitment programme and his desire to push the club on following a season of progress which saw the club flirt on the edges of the play-off places.
“This season has been a massive stepping stone and we have to remember it hasn’t been an easy one for anybody,” he said. “Things will come together because we’re heading in the right direction. There are building blocks being put in place and the effort and commitment from the players has been good.
“My job now is to carry on improving the squad by getting better players whilst also utilising and improving the players we've got here. The important thing at the moment is that everyone in the football department understands that we are a work in progress. They all know what is needed to stay on board and what they have to do to stay with me.
“I am going to be progressive and I am going to bring in better players. I’m going to make sure I’m a driving force behind the success I think I can bring to this football team. The lads have got to understand what is required of them individually and collectively and they have to make sure they are able to last the journey.”
“We brought players like Louis Pedro and Martin Smith to the squad as projects because there is something there that I like,” he explained. “They both need to show a little bit more now to get into the 18, and then onto the pitch. I would say they were people who showed me enough to give them short-term contracts.
“Getting in the door is one thing. Getting into the 18 is another because I don't give shirts away easily. We were in a position when we had the opportunity to get into the play-offs where we didn't want to be short of players. We looked at key areas and brought players in where we thought we might have needed cover. We felt that getting some hungry people in could act as a motivation.”
Looking ahead to the summer recruitment plan, he said: “I'd probably say a squad of 24 would be ideal to start the season. You're always going to lose 15-20% of that through injuries, suspension and loss of form, but you would still have 18 or 19 players.
“The best thing to do now is to wait until the season has ended before we start to pick through it all. There have been some major distractions along the way and that did cause a blip in what we’re trying to produce.
“Are the last three games going to be a case of looking at people who haven’t been involved with the squad? No. The reason they haven’t been getting a look-in is that they haven’t been doing enough.
“I know what’s in that changing room and I know what I can get out of them. They all know I don’t owe anybody any favours because I’m here to win football matches. That’s what I intend to do with the next three games.
“The players will give us performances to match that. There will not be a lack of commitment, effort or willingness. We do sometimes get a lack of quality but you can accept that. I know we need to improve and even if the result had been different on Tuesday night I know we need to get better players into the changing room for us to get to where I think we can go.”
“I'm mindful of where we are logistically and location wise,” he said. “There's got to be a reason for people to come to Carlisle. It makes it easier if we finish the season on a high but we’ve still taken a massive step and made massive progress. To go to the next step we do need to improve.
“We need to be winning games home and away, we want to make this a fortress and a difficult place for people to come. Ultimately we need to score goals and defend our goal better.
“I wouldn't put our recent form down to lack of belief. I think there's a little bit of fatigue, especially with the younger players in terms of mental fatigue. They haven't been used to the journeys.
“The level of commitment we've got out of the players has been very credible and we haven’t been rolled over by anyone. Even if you look at the results like the Northampton game - the score suggested it was an easy encounter but their manager couldn't wait to get their players off the pitch.
“As I say, we’re heading in the right direction, the foundations are in place and the key now is to putting more pieces in place so we can continue to push on.”
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