A familiar face checked back in to Brunton Park yesterday as Carlisle lad Paul Murray was confirmed as our new first team coach.
And he admitted straight away that it felt good to be home as he looks forward to the challenge ahead.
“I think this is a fantastic opportunity,” he said. “This is the third time I’ve been back here now, so hopefully that will bring a bit of luck. When John [Sheridan] got the job, I did look at it and think there might be an opportunity. Thankfully it’s all come to fruition and I’m here for the long haul as far as I'm concerned.
“It’s a two-year deal and I presume all of the staff who come in will get the same length of contract. We’re not here to mess about, I know what the manager is like and he’ll want success and promotion. That’s what we’re here for, to try and take the club forward and get into League One.”
Speaking more about being back at the club where it all started, he told us: “I’ve had two promotions here already. When I was here the second time under Simmo [Paul Simpson] I didn’t really feature because of the international transfer issue we had at the time.
“The thing that sticks in the memory is obviously the 94/95 promotion year, which was amazing. That’s what we’re here for, we’re under no illusions, we want that now. The gaffer and all the staff who are coming in are all winners and we’re looking to get promoted.
“It does feel a bit strange coming back here as a coach, but I’ve been here as a player so I know what the fans and city are like. I want to give them something to shout about and so do the rest of the staff, so it’ll be interesting. We’re looking for success.”
But does this being his home town club add an extra edge to the job ahead?
“If it hadn’t been my home town club I probably would have looked at things slightly differently,” he admitted. “To be able to come back as a coach after being here twice as a player is special. We’ll see if I can do as well as a coach as I did as a player!
“To get some success with the team I’ve supported since I was young lad would be fantastic for everyone. That’s what it’s all about, we want everyone pulling in the same direction. The gaffer has said it already, but we want everyone around the club and the city to be pushing forward together.
“We’ll be trying to get automatic promotion or into the play-offs and we’ll go from there. Everyone wants success and it would be fantastic if we could do that in the next two years.”
The transition from Fleetwood back to Cumbria has been made to feel even more seamless with him having worked under the manager in the same role through the latter stages of last season.
“It was the same job with John down there and I really enjoyed it,” he said. “We were successful, we stayed in the league, and that was our aim. I hadn’t worked with the gaffer prior to that, although I did play for him when he got his first managerial job at Oldham.
“Obviously he liked what he saw and he wanted to bring me here, and he knew the links I had with Carlisle. It’s all happened quite quickly, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind, but I’m just pleased to be here.
“When John first phoned me I thought he might be asking about a player, but he was actually offering me a job, which I was obviously pleased with. I’m really happy to get things over the line.
“It’s a club where there’s all sorts going on, but we have so many contacts that we’re already focused on pulling our squad together and speaking to players to see who we can bring in. Everything is very positive at the moment and we need to keep that all the way through the season.
“I already know a lot of the lads here, which helps – I’ve played with Gary Liddle and Danny Grainger and I’ve coached Mike Jones, so I have some good links within the playing squad which will make the job easier.”
Speaking more about his coaching career, he told us: “I did do a little bit of management at Hartlepool for a brief period, but I’ve had to go through a three-year cycle to come back into it at this level of things.
“It whetted my appetite when I was working with John through the final bit of last season, so it’s good to be here as first team coach. It’s been a slog for me personally for a while, but I couldn’t be at a better place to come and get some success at first team level again.
“I’ve got a good few years of coaching experience under my belt now as well. I was assistant at Oldham with Lee Johnson and I’ve had various other roles. I’ve done most of the levels through the academy side of things, with under-18s, under-21s and under-23s, but it is nice to be back and involved with a first team, and it’s even better for me that it’s at this club.
“The amount of experience we have as a group of coaching staff can only bode well for Carlisle. We’re all ex-footballers and we played the game how it should have been played. We just wanted to win at all costs.
“There’s ability involved in that as well, but the cornerstones of our careers were hard work, effort and desire. We’ll give that as a minimum requirement while we're here every day and we’ll see where that takes us.”
And looking back at his time as a player, he commented: “I loved my career from start to finish but, and I’m not just saying this, I had some fantastic times when I was here.
“Winning the title as a young lad during the 94/95 season was out of this world. We had such a good team and the feeling of being involved with it all is something I’ll never forget.
“It’s funny coming back with Darren Edmondson on the staff as well, because he was part of that and we often talk about how it was in those days. I’ve learned a lot since making my debut as a 17-year old and I know I’ll be able to pass a lot of that on.
“My debut should actually have happened sooner than it did. I remember being sat in the dugout and Mick [Wadsworth] turned round to tell me I was going on. After the initial surprise I looked down and my heart sank, because I realised I’d left my shirt in the dressing room.
“He leaned in towards me and whispered ‘go on, go and get it then’ so I sprinted off up the tunnel to do exactly that. When I got back he turned round, walked over to me and said ‘forget it, there’s no way you’re going on that pitch today – don’t you ever do that again!’ I was gutted, but it was a heck of a way to teach me a lesson.
“I finally got my chance at left back, because Tony Gallimore was injured. Looking back it’s amazing really because I was still a schoolboy. I came through the YTS ranks and managed to get in the team, and then I left for a few quid to go to QPR having had a brilliant time.
“If I can get a bit of success on the sidelines now then it would mean a heck of a lot to me. This is my club when it comes down to it and that would be fantastic.
"I’ve spoken to the manager about the fans and I've told him that if this place starts rocking it’s formidable. We had six or seven thousand coming to watch us every week when we had a bit of success.
"I’m not saying it’s going to happen overnight, but we’re here to try to build some momentum and to get people back through the gates and supporting us. We want to create the atmosphere where it’s a fortress and where it’s difficult for teams to come here and play against us.”
“I can’t wait until we’re getting our teeth into it because there’s loads of work to be done,” he concluded. “We want to get the group together then start to develop the team spirit and camaraderie which is behind all successful teams. That’s what we’re aiming to do.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Paul Murray on iFollow United now.