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Interviews

INTERVIEW: Carlisle feels like home

Jason Kennedy on signing a new deal with United

5 June 2017

We caught up with popular midfielder Jason Kennedy on Wednesday following the release of the news that he had agreed a new two-year deal with the club.

Speaking first about his decision to ignore other suitors in favour of United, he said: “I had a few offers on the table from other clubs. Some of those offers were really good, but I discussed it with my family and we all decided that since I’ve been at Carlisle I’ve had a really enjoyable experience, and it sort of feels like we’re home.

"I love playing for the club and the manager, and the fans are brilliant with me. As a family we all decided it was the right decision to stay.

“Like I say, one of the offers was really good. It was a better contract but as a family we decided that happiness is more important. You don’t know what goes on at other clubs, and it was a decision based on the fact that since I’ve been here it’s the happiest I’ve been, and I think that comes out in the way I’ve been playing."

“I love working for the gaffer and his staff and that played a big part in me deciding I want to stay," he told us. "The gaffer looks after us and gives us the time off we need to spend with our families and things like that. It isn’t bad for me but for the other lads it can be difficult to get that family time when you’re away.

“I really love playing football under the gaffer. When I first joined the club we were just above the relegation places and fighting for our lives. To be on this journey, where we’ve got to the play-offs, it does feel like there’s unfinished business and I want to go one step further and get promotion with Carlisle.

“When we had our end of season meetings with the gaffer he was brilliant with me. He was full of praise and he showed how much he appreciated me as a player, as well as a person to have around the dressing room. He really built me up and it was obvious that he wanted me to stay and help the club push on and get the promotion."

On his injury, which saw him play just two games between the end of January and the last game of the season down at Exeter, he said: “The injury was very frustrating. If I was fit for the second half of the season I probably would have scored even more goals and had the best season of my life. Until I got injured we were flying high and it was brilliant to be part of it.

“It was a frustrating period because it was the first operation I’d ever had - and hopefully the last! You don’t actually realise how hard it is on you mentally until you get injured. It was difficult to watch the lads because we weren’t on a good run at the time and all I wanted to do was help.

“As a player you just want to play and do whatever you can. I feel like I played a key part through the first half of the season so not being able to help and having to watch us slip down the table was difficult.

“Eventually the lads got us into the play-offs and we gave a good account of ourselves, even though we fell short in the end. For some reason on the day of the Exeter away leg I felt like there was an opportunity for me to score because of all the crosses that were coming into the box.

"When I came on I had a feeling I was going to get onto something. To get the goal was a nice way to end the season even though we were obviously disappointed to miss out on Wembley."

Speaking about his goal return, which saw him get 11 official goals this season, he told us: “I definitely got 12 goals! I’m still claiming that second one at Morecambe!

"It’s the most goals I’ve ever scored in a season so I’m obviously pleased with my overall return. Before that it was seven, so I was really happy to get the amount I did. Hopefully I can do the same again next season.

"I won’t be setting a 20-goal target for next year just yet though! I’ll do the same as I did last year and aim for about eight. Hopefully we can start to raise that target higher as I start to score a few. If I could get to 20 that would be amazing because some strikers don’t even get that these days."

Looking back at how the season started on a personal level, he said: "Everyone was flying. I started the game at Portsmouth but I then didn’t start the cup game against Port Vale, where we ran riot.

"After that the gaffer couldn’t really make any changes so I knew I had to work hard and give everything just to get back in the team. When I did get back in the team I knew I then had to convince him to play me every week, and I felt I did that as the season went on."

“I do feel that as a team can go one step further next year," he commented. "When you speak to the manager it’s obvious he wants to be successful and he wants to get Carlisle up the divisions.

"It's unfinished business as far as I'm concerned. If we can go again next year without the injuries and disruptions we should be right up there. Without that we could maybe have gone up this year, but if we can go and push on again hopefully next year is the year for us."

And on the positive reaction to his signing news from the fans on social media, he said: "The supporters have been brilliant with me from day one. The support I’ve had all season has been fantastic and I haven’t received a bad word from any of them.

"A lot of the fans tweet my wife as well and they’re all very friendly, which makes it feel like a real family club. That was another part of the decision - Carlisle feels like home to us now and we’re all happy here. If we’re happy, that’s all you want in life."

“One of my first aims for next season will be to stay injury free and keep fit," he admitted. "I want to make sure I’m involved in every game and hopefully help the club go one better than last season. I’d love to play every game and have a good season personally and as a team.

“We’ve already got great competition in midfield and I know the gaffer will be looking to bring in new players who will come in and improve everyone as a whole. When that happens it only brings success because it pushes everyone on.

"It will be interesting to see who he brings in and it's an exciting time ahead of pre-season. When you see the news of new signings, you look at them and think that they’re good players, which will mean we’re definitely challenging at the top of the table.

“With the injury I had last season I already can’t wait to get back for pre-season and get playing. I’m looking forward to being back into the swing of things.

"In a way my pre-season has already started because I’ve got a lot of exercises to do to make sure my strength is there and that I don't risk going through the same again. Like I say, I’m just looking forward to getting back.”


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