United boss Keith Curle added more quality to the midfield department last week when he signed 29-year-old Kelvin Etuhu on a two-year deal having monitored the combative tough tackler for a number of seasons.
Etuhu, who exploded on the scene as a youngster at Manchester City, was quick to point out that his move north from Bury felt like the right thing to do as he looks to establish himself as a mainstay at the heart of another push for promotion at Brunton Park.
“It’s nice to be here,” he said. “It’s good to be at a club with a manager like Keith [Curle] and to be in and around a dressing room like this. We’ve got a great bunch of lads here and it’s good for me to be involved with a club like Carlisle United.
“Two years is good, but the decision to come here wasn’t just to do with the length of the deal. It’s more about where I am with my career and where I want to go next. To be honest it’s brilliant to have a manager like Keith when you know he wants you to play for him. It definitely gives you confidence and that was a big part of my decision to join the club.”
“It does also make it easier when you come into a dressing room with faces you know,” he continued.” I know Nicky Adams and Mike Jones quite well, and I obviously know Hallam Hope from Bury. Hallam is a good lad and he’ll be one for the fans because he works really hard.
“It’s always nice when you know a few of the lads already. I’m quite close to Hallam, to be honest, so things like that do help you to settle in.”
A big part of persuading any player that your club is the place to be, particularly when he has other options on the table, are the conversations he has with the coaching staff and Etuhu revealed that a lot of boxes had been ticked during his initial talks with Keith Curle and Lee Dykes, held at the beginning of the summer break.
“The manager and Lee said a lot of encouraging things about what they want from me and about how they want the team to play,” he explained. “They made it clear where they want me to be and what they want me to achieve.
“They’ve talked about how they want me to improve and it’s good to have a manager and coaching staff that want to better you as a player. I’m known for playing a number of different roles but for me it’s mainly about getting consistency and playing at the top of my game every time I get the opportunity to play.”
As to what we can expect to see from him, he said: “I’d describe myself as aggressive and energetic - with a big heart. I like to get my team mates psyched up before games and I’m just a big personality on the field.
“I’m coming here to play good football and to play as many games as I can. I just want to do the best I can for my team mates, the club and the fans. I’ve got a few good memories from playing at Brunton Park, I think I won the last time I played here, but that’s in the past and it’s all about this club for me now.”
And the versatile player admitted that he’s fully aware of the competition he’ll face as he comes into a squad packed with high quality midfield attributes.
“We’ve got some good competition in midfield,” he said. “We have some good players and there will be some real competition to see who can get the shirts.
“That gets the best out of you as a player because you know your place is never safe. We all know already that we’ll have to keep performing to keep a starting place.”
Looking back at how it all started for the Nigerian-born playmaker we wondered how a boy growing up in London had ended up with Premier League giants Manchester City when a host of other clubs had been tracking his progress very closely indeed.
“I lived in London when I was younger but I think you’d say that the area I was from was quite rough,” he told us. “My mum wanted to get me out of there because of that.
“I was actually with Millwall to start with but a scout from Manchester City saw me and I went up there to see how it would go. It’s probably one of the proudest moments of my life to play for their first team.
Every young kid has that dream of making it through into the game but to actually do it for a club like that was surreal and something I’ll never forget ...
“Every young kid has that dream of making it through into the game but to actually do it for a club like that was surreal and something I’ll never forget. I learned a lot during that time because I was at the top level and I was playing with top players who had been at the top of their game for a number of years.
“It lets you know where you need to be and how much you need to focus on being successful if you do want to be involved. It also shows you what you can achieve if you get your head down and work hard. Over the years I’ve played for a few big clubs and in front of some very demanding fans.
“It does add to your experience and I think it helps when you can bring your personality to the field, and add it to the mix of the other personalities and characters out there.”
Now five days in to the pre-season regime he also confirmed that the focus within his current group is completely on achieving improvement on what the club did last season.
“When we had our meeting on day one of pre-season it was clear that the aim was promotion,” he revealed. “We narrowly missed out last year but hopefully we can repeat the hard work and keep that dedication to get us over the line.
“Ideally we’ll get there without needing to go through the play-offs and I’ll have played a big part in it.”