Team captain Danny Grainger ahead of the Exeter City gameTeam captain Danny Grainger spoke this week about the importance of maintaining the recent high levels of performance as we head in to what is undoubtedly the most important game of the season.
“If we’re honest we haven’t been good enough since Christmas up until the last month or so,” he said. “There are games from April where if we’d got what we deserved we’d be safely in the play-offs now.
“That shows we’re playing quite well at the moment and this is a good time to hit a little bit of form. The momentum is with us and we’ll go to Exeter with a lot of confidence, and hopefully we’ll get the job done.
“It doesn’t matter whether you need a point, three points or whatever, you always go out win every game. We know the fans will travel in their numbers and we know it will be fantastic support. Our job is to get the win no matter what’s happening elsewhere.
“Being successful in the play-offs has to be the aim. All I’ve ever wanted is to help Carlisle get back into League One and push this club forward and I’d love to part of that this season. It’s a dressing room which deserves it because all of the lads are pulling together and we all want to win and bring that bit of success we all crave.”
“Those who saw the way we started the game on Saturday will have seen how much we wanted it,” he continued. “We were well on top for the first 15 minutes or so and then they got their goal when Gary Liddle headed it onto their lad.
“That was us not getting a slice of luck again but Jabo and Nicky showed what they’re about with the quality of their finishes. Mind you, I think Nicky’s effort was actually a cross. There’s no way I’m giving him it as a shot ... I just can’t give him any more praise than that.
“As for Jabo, he’s on fire at the moment. He gets on to these runs where you can’t touch him and you just have to let him go and get on with it.”
Ibehre’s goal against Newport brought him to within touching distance of a six-game consecutive scoring record equalled by the club skipper earlier this season and he admitted that he’ll be rooting for his team mate to do the same when they take to the pitch at Exeter.
“I hope he does it and I’d love it if we won 1-0 and he got the winner,” he told us. “I’d be delighted for him because he deserves it for the work he puts in. He’s a great guy and we got on really well together off the pitch.
“Niggly little injuries have left him feeling frustrated recently but he’s back and it’s players like him and Jamie Proctor who could push us over the line. When it comes to the play-offs there’s nothing to fear because it’s about who is going to turn up on the day. The first job is to make sure we’re involved and then we can take it from there.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, he said: “It’s about dong it right. We have to make sure we get on with it and enjoy it. We know what it’s about, even though there’s a bit of added pressure, and I know the manager will make sure we prepare properly and in the right way.
“I was speaking to Mark Gillespie before we kicked off on Saturday and I said to him that two years ago to the day we were playing Plymouth and we were fighting for our Football League status. Now we’re fighting for a place in the play-offs and that shows how far we’ve come as a club.
“It isn’t the case that it’s just a game of football and if it happens, it happens. It means a heck of a lot to us all. I had the best part of 20 people at the game watching me last weekend and they were all right behind us. Getting the result was massive for me and being able to take it right down to the wire is something special for us all.
“We know the fans are going in huge numbers and we can only appreciate what they do. They put in the miles and get right behind us and if they can make a lot of noise on Saturday they can help to pull us over the line.”
Away from immediate football matters it was revealed this week that the popular left back has already agreed another one-year deal which keeps him with the club until at least the summer of 2018.
“I’ve said from the first day I signed that I’m happy here,” he confirmed. “I’m enjoying my football, it’s my home town and I’m close to my friends and family. I’m not looking to go anywhere else because I want to stay here as long as I can.
“I’d be more than happy to see my playing career out here if I’m being totally honest, but I know I’ll have to keep working hard and earning the right to do that.
“I can only be grateful to the club and the manager for giving me another contract. He’s put a lot of faith in me since he came in and he’s given me the armband and new contract after new contract.
“That’s given me a lot of self belief and I love the extra responsibility it’s brought for me in the dressing room. I feel like I’m enjoying the latter stages of my career and hopefully we can go on and seal promotion at Wembley. That would be a fantastic achievement for myself.”
“It’s good to have things sorted because there are good players up and down the country who will go into the summer break with nothing on the table,” he added. “It isn’t the case that two and three year contracts are thrown around any more. People are getting a year here and there at our level so it is good to have it done.”
And we couldn’t let him go without mentioning a potential unexpected spin-off from United’s current promotion push as his wife [Heather] took to social media this week with the promise of a #cufc tattoo should the team be successful at Wembley at the end of May.
“She started having a bit of banter on Twitter and obviously all of the lads have picked up on it, and they think it’s brilliant,” he said. “I can’t believe she’s said it, to be honest. I’ll have to go home and deactivate her Twitter account.
“To be fair to her, I think things like this show that everyone really wants promotion to happen. It was great for us to be able to take our kids on the pitch on Saturday, with all the wives and girlfriends around the tunnel area, waiting for us, because we’re all doing this together and they feel the joy and frustration right along with us, as do the fans. She’s put herself in a position now where she’s going to have to go through with it – what a plonker!”