Keith Curle on his retained and released listManager Keith Curle spoke to us on Monday evening about his released and retained list as he starts the work of looking towards the new campaign.
“In some respects this is the worst day [on the football calendar] because sometimes it’s the last opportunity you get to speak to a player,” he said. “Within that it can be one of the best days because you’re setting down foundations and you’re giving people the opportunity to come along and get on board with what you’re trying to achieve.
“You’re asking those players to become part of the DNA and that’s a good feeling. The way I do it is that I always get them into my office in alphabetical order, so it doesn’t mean you’re seeing all the players you’re reengaging followed by those you’re releasing.
“Doing it alphabetically mixes that up, but it does mean it’s a full range of emotions for me. The good thing is that I have a relationship with each player which is open, honest and professional in terms of what my opinion and assessment is of them.
“I talk about what they’ve brought for me, what they’ve achieved and where I think they’ve fallen short. Ultimately, whether a player is staying here or furthering their career elsewhere, everybody leaves with a positive message from their manager.”
For the players under contract with the club the manager explained that the message for them was a simple one.
“I’ve told them to get ready to accept a new challenge,” he commented. “I do need to bring in new personnel and there will be new characters with new skill sets. Some players are going to directly feel that it’s a challenge for them because they’ll see other players arrive in their position.
“I need them to be open to that because one of the things which has created and maintained the level of success at this club is that people aren’t scared of challenges. On reflection there’s a unity and strength of character in that changing room and there’s resolve amongst the group that certainly wasn’t here when I first came. The players have created that and they can be very proud of it.”
Speaking about the release of Patrick Brough, Max Crocombe and Ben Tomlinson, he said: “I think they’re all players who need to be playing games.
“Patrick needs a continuation of his development now and he needs to be playing on a regular basis. He has all of the attributes and key skill sets that could see him develop, but the one thing he isn’t getting is game time.
“I’m hoping to see that he comes out of his comfort zone and he goes and earns a contract. He could earn a living playing football because he has the ability. It wouldn’t surprise me if Patrick goes on from here, the penny drops and he starts to perform at a very good level.
“Max Crocombe is exactly the same. He hasn’t had the opportunity because of the consistency, reliability and dependability shown by Mark Gillespie. Mark was our number one last season and Max was unable to force his way into the team. When he did come in he didn’t quite show enough for me to warrant a change in that position.
“Like I say, he needs that consistent level of game time and to go and earn a number one jersey somewhere. He definitely has the skill sets and attributes.
“Ben Tomlinson came to us and he’s a lad who has a fantastic personality and good characteristics. He’s a very exuberant lad and he mixed in very well. As with the other two, he needs to be playing games.
“He came through a shocking injury and he returned ahead of schedule because of his determination and professionalism and the work he was prepared to do in the gym. He got an opportunity here because we saw something in him. His next step is to start a season in a team and utilise the attacking skill sets he has.
“He’s a player who will score goals and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him, as I have with all of the players. I’ve built up some good relationships and bonds, but I’ve also fallen out with a few players along the way.
“When that happens I do it to get a reaction out of them, but it’s never for personal reasons. It’s always done professionally because there’s a level of respect I have for the changing room. I know they’ve given me everything they have this season and that’s all I will ever ask for.”
And on the six players offered new deals [James Bailey, Mark Gillespie, Jabo Ibehre, Jason Kennedy, Samir Nabi and Michael Raynes] he told us: “They now have a seven day notice period. They can speak to their families and representatives and decide as quickly as possible whether or not they want to get involved in the journey. All contract offers are subject to negotiation – players can always take less if they want to!
“We know what I think about the players who have been with us over the longer term and with James Bailey and Samir Nabi I see good things in both of them. Samir is probably what I would call a project. If he develops how I hope he will he’ll add dynamics to the squad. He can score goals and I think he now needs a pre-season under his belt with us. I think he will benefit massively from that.
“He’s had a good upbringing in the game and he’s very attack minded. I now need to get him used to what we need him to do out of possession. I think he can pick all of that up. He also needs to develop his personality because he’s a little bit shy and quiet, and I think a good pre-season with us will do him the world of good. If he’s ticking and clicking he will be direct competition for Jason Kennedy.
“James Bailey is one who can pass a ball and spot an opening, and he’s another who will add a lot to what we have here, once he’s been through a full pre-season and really got to grips with how we want to play.”
“Offering Jabo [Ibehre] something was an easy decision,” he confirmed. “I don’t think you ever willingly release centre forwards of his stature. I had a good conversation with him where we talked about where we’re at as a football club and we’ve made him a very competitive offer.
“It’s another incentivised offer and if he performs as both he and I think he can perform he’ll be able to earn very good money. He has a young family, he’s from down south, but I think he enjoys Carlisle and he has a lifestyle where he’s able to get the best out of himself. He also enjoys the club and the rapport he has with the fans and he knows he has a lot of friends in Carlisle.”
“One thing we have to have in mind is that we are two weeks behind in our recruitment process,” he concluded. “That’s down to the success we had in getting into the play-offs. Ideally we’d have liked to have signed two or three players by now.
“Mansfield stand out because they’ve already signed seven or eight and they’re potentially after two more. I know that’s a fact because I met both of those players yesterday.
“The pleasing thing is that we’re able to be competitive with our offers. We will be outbid in some circumstances but with the way we try to structure our deals we want players to come here with real incentives. The main incentive for our players to earn money is to perform, be successful on the pitch and to win games. If they do that they are very, very well rewarded.”