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MANAGER: I go on record as saying thank you to all of them

10 May 2016

Keith Curle on the 2016 retained and released list

United manager Keith Curle spoke to us about this season’s retained and released list shortly after concluding his meetings with the players on Monday afternoon.

“It’s the part of my job which is the least enjoyable,” he said. “It isn’t something I relish doing, but I know I approach it with honesty, and hopefully the players appreciate that I try to do it as soon as possible to put them in a position where they can move on quickly with the next stage of their careers.

“With the players who are staying, I talk to them about what they’ve done well from the season just gone and what they need to improve on for the coming season. They are conversations which need to be had at the appropriate time and it’s always on a one-on-one basis.

“That gives the players the opportunity to tell me how they think their season has gone and to say anything else they feel they need to say.”

“A large majority of the people released is down to the game time they haven’t been able to achieve,” he added. “Earning a contract is one thing, but performing at a high level on a consistent basis is another. There are some very good professionals and characters on that list who have been at the club for the right reasons.

“Unfortunately, under my jurisdiction, they haven’t had the game time their careers need. It’s an honest opinion from me and sometimes, in that situation, the players need to find another football club and hopefully they will get the game time they need.

“They definitely don’t leave here as bad players just because I’ve made these decisions. It’s simply because I haven’t used them enough and I don’t see them progressing by not being involved on match days. They’re all in the age bracket where they need to be playing.

“I have to go on record as saying thank you to all of them for their attention to detail, application, professionalism, willingness and character. They’ve been a pleasure to work with and they’ve represented this club extremely well.”

Speaking about the ten players retained, he said: “I don’t think any of them are the finished article. That’s been brought up at the meetings today and they’ve all been given guidelines on their future progression to make sure they stay with me on the journey.

“We’ve had a season with no threat of relegation and some good platforms and foundations have been put in place. We can’t settle for that, in my opinion. We’re nowhere near the end of the journey and hopefully we’ll find that we’re heading above and beyond the second division.

“None of these lads are on an available for transfer list, or anything like that, but they’ve all been told they can’t afford to take their foot off the gas. I’m going to sign players who I think will make us a very competitive football club. Not one of those ten players has a guaranteed starting place because, as I’ve said before, I don’t owe anybody in this football club anything other than my honesty. My decisions are always based on the team I think will win the game. That won’t and can’t change.

“These lads will go away for a break now but when they come back after the summer they’re going to be met by new faces who are hungry to take their place in the team. That can only be good for Carlisle United.

“The pleasing thing is that all ten lads see their immediate future here. They’ve enjoyed working with me and representing the football club and there’s more to come from all of them.”

“Over and above the retained and released lists we’ve offered deals to Alexander McQueen and Tom Miller,” he told us. “Initially they’re verbal offers and that will be followed up by official offers in writing. 

“I think Alex came into the football club as a project and he’s been involved in over 20 games, so that has to be seen as good progression. There’s a heck of a lot more to come from him but he’s had a good year of development. 

“He had to move away from London and his family network and he’s matured and grown up a lot because of that. There are times when he’s found it difficult to be away from the comfort of his family and he’s lost a little bit of focus because of that on occasions through the season. 

“He comes from a very tight and loving family and it isn’t easy to leave that behind. It’s been hard work for them to have their son move away from home and it’s been even harder for Alex when he’s found that he hasn’t been playing. He’s had weekends where he’s had to stay in Carlisle on his own, and that is a challenge.

“Ultimately he’s produced a steady incline on a daily basis towards being a player who can add more and more to his game. He has key attributes I like and that I want to work with and I think he will continue to develop.”

“With Tom, it’s been his first year in league football, after a period of time in the Conference, and he started the season exceptionally well,” he said. “We knew he would add goals from the defensive areas to our team and he’s learning his trade at this level quickly. If he can keep that level of progression he’s one who could play at a higher level. Hopefully that will be here with us. 

“Again, I know both of these lads have thoroughly enjoyed their season. They’ve integrated very well into the professional environment and they’ve played league football confidently. They get time now to consider if they want to be part of our future.

“We’ll give both of them seven days from when they receive their written offer but, having said that, if they say they need longer within that timeframe to negotiate, I won’t have a problem with that. First and foremost I want to know they’re signing for the right reasons. There’s a level of commitment to being here so we need to find out that they do want to stay. The meetings I had with both were good and positive so we’ll see where that goes.”

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