United boss Keith Curle spoke about his decision, revealed on Thursday, to leave Carlisle United at the end of the current campaign following just over three years in the hotseat at Brunton Park.
“Being manager of this club has been massive for me,” he said. “Being able to stabilise and improve a football club, from the position it was in, has been really enjoyable.
“The backing I’ve had from supporters, staff, stakeholders and my backroom staff has been excellent. There’s no way I could have done this on my own and I’m very grateful for the support I’ve received.
“Furthermore, the backing of the players has been fantastic. There’s only Danny Grainger who remains from the squad of players I inherited, and everyone who has come in has bought in to what we are trying to achieve.”
“The relationship I’ve had with the stakeholders has been exemplary,” he added. “I’ve spent hours and hours with the chairman, on the coach going to games and around the club, and I have a lot of time and respect for him.
“That’s not only as a man, but as a chairman. We’ve had some good times together. I’ve shared some great stories and I’m hoping he’ll have some fond memories of my time here with him. I’ve managed at other clubs and this is the best way I could have envisaged ending my time here.
“A special mention has to go to the Paddock and our supporters. We’ve been on a journey and we’ve been on it together. We’ve had highs and lows, but they’ve conducted themselves exceptionally well and they’ve played their part in pushing us forward.
“This club is a challenge, but I have to say that I’ve enjoyed every single minute of the challenges I’ve faced with it. Some of the things I’ve had to deal with here have been a massive learning curve and that's going to help me as I look to further my career and as I strive for success elsewhere.”
On the timing of his departure from the club, he told us: “It’s the right time for me personally and it’s been my decision to leave, even though it wasn’t an easy decision to make. I’m very respectful of the fact the club have asked me to stay on to take the last two games.
“I love the city and the people so that’s something I’m looking forward to doing. There’s been hard work going on behind the scenes and I think it’s only right and proper that myself and my staff are able to fulfil our commitments to the season. I walk out of here a very proud man.
“I’ll also advise on those players who are out of contract going beyond the end of the season and I’ll use the knowledge I have of the individuals to help with that. Obviously that is only advice, and it will then be up to the club or the next manager to decide if they feel that’s right.
“That’s something I’ll be proud to do because I think it’s important the players I’ve worked with hear that from me. I have a wonderful relationship with that changing room and they know everything I do or say will be done with honesty.”
Speaking about his backroom staff, he said: “Myself, Lee Dykes and Colin West will be leaving together. They’ve been fantastic for me and they’re part of my army. I know I can’t do everything on my own and they know the standards I demand.
“They are my guardian angels because they make sure everything is right. I value them and I value the work they do. They’re loyal, professional and they also want to be successful. I like that.
“Dan Watson, another fantastic professional, has a slightly different contract that sees him having an extended period of time at the club. He’s a very honourable person and if the new regime deem that they would like him to continue then that’s a discussion they can have with Dan.
“If I’m able to get another job and it’s the right move for him then I would have no hesitation in talking to him about it. He’s done an excellent job since he came in and he’s continued the progress of the keepers he’s worked with.”
And on what he’s leaving behind, he said: “I think there have been a lot of changes. It was a club that needed direction and a different vision, and I think it was a very brave decision to bring me in as someone who had no previous affiliation at all.
“The club has stood by me and supported me all the way. I have no doubt that I leave with some strong platforms, pillars and foundations in place. The way I manage, and you’ll have seen it with some of my press conference where I’ve had things like lipstick and a brick on the table, means that I do whatever needs to be done at the time.
“In my team talks I’ve recited poetry, read out quotes and used lines from songs. If there’s a need for something different, I’ll try it, and the players fully understand that.
“What happens now is that a lot of people will show interest, because this is a good club. I’m not embarrassed about people sitting behind me if they want to take a look at the players. In fact, if people have serious ambitions to be the next manager, then I encourage them to do it.
“The players will be told that potential new managers are there to watch them, so I’ll expect the lads to get out there and showcase their ability. Whoever the new manager is, he needs to be able to embrace the ethos of the club – Be Just and Fear Not.
“When you break that down, you see there’s a lot in that statement.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.