United manager Keith Curle finally got his man when striker Hallam Hope put pen-to-paper on a two-year deal this summer having been chased by the Carlisle boss almost from the moment his 2015/16 season loan spell at Brunton Park came to a conclusion.
We caught up with the forward over the weekend to get his thoughts on his move north from Bury, speaking first about a memorable quote which came from the gaffer when the signing was announced which revealed that he’d pursued the Hope signature more than he’d chased his ex-wife, ex-partner and current girlfriend combined.
“There’s a funny side to the comment he made but it’s always good to know when someone really wants you to be here,” he said. “It’s good for me and my confidence and it sets me up well.
“I was laughing when I read it, and a few of the other lads were as well. Like I said, the best club to play for is one where the manager wants you and where he also has confidence in the abilities you have. It really does give you a boost.”
And on a more serious note the United boss also spoke about his desire to see the centre forward play in his natural position.
“When I was younger centre forward was the position I played when I came through the youth set-up at Everton,” he commented. “I joined Bury as a striker and that’s where I feel most effective. It’s where I want to play and it’s definitely my preferred position, but obviously I’ll also play in other positions if it helps the team.
“It’s always good to be able to play in different positions and I am more than willing to do that. It comes down to what’s best for everyone at the time. Whatever happens I’ll always run and work hard for the team.
“Hopefully that’ll be in the position I want to be playing in and I’ll be scoring a few goals as well. I’m just looking forward to getting on with it.
“It’s nice to see a lot of familiar faces round the place. It’s a good club, I get on well with everyone and I think I probably come here maybe having something to prove to myself. I want to have a good season, get a good run of games under my belt and hopefully get some of those goals I’ve talked about.”
Having had interest from other clubs following his release from Gigg Lane he told us that his decision had been made easier with him having already seen what Carlisle has to offer.
I do feel as if I’m wanted and that was a big part of persuading me to choose Carlisle United ...
“It’s always easier to come to a place where you know how the team wants to play and you know the surroundings,” he commented. “I know the staff really well and I know some of the players, which is good. I do feel as if I’m wanted and that was a big part of persuading me to choose Carlisle United.
“The fans have played their part in that because so many of them have messaged me already and wished me all the best. I now have two years at a club where I can really start to look forward and set some plans in place. I know that we all want to go one better than the club did last season and I want to be part of that.
“The dressing room is amazing because it’s the same kind of atmosphere from when I was here last time. Everyone was really close and that hasn’t changed. We all went out for a meal last Wednesday night and we found ourselves needing a table for twelve, which is fantastic.
“It’s really good that Kelvin [Etuhu] has come here at the same time because we get along really well. We’re quite close and I have to say, he’s a really good player. He’ll bring a lot to the team.”
Looking back at how he had spent his formative years in the game with arguably one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, we wondered how a young lad from Manchester had ended up on Merseyside, particularly when it was widely known that a well-known local club was also chasing his signature.
“I was playing in a tournament in Manchester when I was 12-years-old and there were quite a few scouts there,” he said. “There was one from Manchester City and one from Everton, and I ended up having to make a choice between the two. I went for trials at both clubs and the aura about the place at Everton was superb.
“It was a really welcoming environment and, looking back, I think I made the right choice. I learned a lot and it was a bit of a dream come true for a young lad to be able to do it. I was there for ten years in the end and it gave me an excellent grounding.
“I got some good loan experience with Northampton and Sheffield Wednesday and I had a really good spell with Bury, which probably eventually led to the permanent move to join them. All of those spells gave me different challenges in different environments and I think that helps to progress you as a player and a person.”
His three year stay with the Shakers came to a close at the end of last season but he insisted again that the time was right to seek pastures new.
“There are no regrets or sadness at leaving,” he said. “It’s another place where I’ve learned a lot from being there and I had some good times, particularly with the promotion we got. I met some really good people, it’s a great club, but it’s time for a new challenge now.
“I’m here with Carlisle United to set new targets and one of those is for us to get promoted. On a personal level I just want to score as many goals and play as many games as I can.”