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INTERVIEW: I wanted to stay at the club even without the trigger

Gary Liddle on triggering a clause in his contract which keeps him at Brunton Park for another season

6 March 2018

Gary Liddle recently triggered a clause in his contract which keeps him at Brunton Park until June 2019, so we caught up with him on Tuesday afternoon to get his thoughts on his extended stay with the club.

“When I signed my contract in January 2017 I was always confident that I would hit the trigger that was put in there," he told us. "I’ve always been a 50-game a season type of player, so I was comfortable that I could hit the trigger to get another year.

“Thankfully it’s all sorted. I know there are plenty of lads who are out of contract at the end of this season, coaching staff included, so thankfully I’m one of the lucky ones who has automatically triggered another year."

"I think it’s been made quite public that the focus is on the run-in towards the end of the season and the push for the play-offs, before the other lads get sorted, so it’s good that I’ve got an automatic trigger," he added. "It means my focus can be on this final push towards the end of the season.

“The main focus for all of us now is continuing this push towards the end of the season and achieving as much as we can. It would be amazing if I was starting my third season here as a League One player again. That’s what we’re all striving for."

On whether he was keeping tabs on his contract situation, he said: “I did keep an eye on the number of games I was playing as I got closer to the trigger, but I knew that if I kept myself fit and playing well I would get to the trigger pretty comfortably, which has been the case in the end.

"I’m one of the lucky ones really, because there are no negotiations needed with this sort of trigger. It’s a case of hitting it and another year kicks in automatically."

With another season sorted we also wondered it if gave peace of mind at home, particulalry with a young family to look after.

“The older you get, once you get married and have kids, the main priority is family," he confirmed. "In my case that's the main thing, so to know you’ve got another year of income and to know you’ll be able to look after the kids is important.

"Even without the trigger I would have been looking to stay at the club anyway, so I’m really happy that I’m able to do that."

With some excellent performances under his belt recently, he commented: “When I first came to the club the first six months was difficult. I’d like to think during this season, as the games have ticked by, I’ve hopefully shown the fans the consistent and dependable player I can be for the team.

“I came to the club from the league above, where I’d played for a number of years, and it was probably a case of trying too hard and doing silly stuff, which I probably shouldn’t have been doing.

"This season I’ve really simplified my game, and I feel I’m playing like the player people have known me as during my whole career. Hopefully I’ve turned people’s opinions around and shown them how much of an important player I can be for this club." 

“I know I was out of form when I first came to the club," he continued. "I came from Chesterfield, who were struggling in League One, and I don’t think I’d won many games at all with them through the first half of that season.

"I came to a football club who were in the upper reaches of League Two and I found it difficult. I got through that, but we obviously didn’t get to where we wanted to be at the end of last season. However, that means we all really want to go one better this season.

“I put pressure on myself that I wanted to show not only the manager, but the fans, what sort of player I still was. Hopefully I’ve managed to do that this year." 

And he admitted recently, having hit the 550 career appearance mark, that he's back to enjoying his football with a group of players he enjoys working with.

“I think any player who is playing games is happy," he said. "With the gaffer we all know that he’s only going to keep us in the team if he feels we’re playing well. A winning dressing room is a happy dressing room and when you win games it breeds confidence. I’m really happy with current form, both personally and with the team.

“We’ve won four games on the bounce so it’s gone from a season which looked like it was dwindling away a little bit, to a season where we’re really striving to push towards those top seven places again.

"It’s all to play for. I think an exciting end to the season is important, especially when it looked like the season was going to peter out. I think we were in thirteenth place for about three months, or that’s how long it felt like, but we’ve started to climb the table a little bit now.

"The manager had said that we were due our own little winning run, particularly after we’d struggled to do that in the first half of the season. To get four on the bounce has been great for the football club and it’s put us right back within touching distance again."

Speaking again about that fantastic career milestone, he said: “I think I said it at the time, but it’s probably quite unusual for a player of 31-years-old to get to 550 appearances, so it’s something I’m really proud of.

"I’ve been very lucky with injuries and I’ve played for a lot of managers who have always seemed to play me. Hopefully I can stay injury free and reel off another good batch of appearances for Carlisle United, and we can do well together." 

On current form, which has seen United climb to ninth in the table, he said: “We’ve got a good record of clean sheets since the turn of the year, but it isn’t just us at the back who can take pride in that.

"I know it’s a cliche but we all do defend as a team. We’ve probably simplified the formation a little bit, with individual roles and things like that, and we’ve all been working hard.

“The four wins we’ve just had probably haven’t been the entertaining or attacking football that we’d all want, but the pitches and the weather play a part in that. I don’t think anyone can argue with the 12 points we’ve picked up.

“After the last four victories I’ve seen a few comments about us playing teams who have all been at the bottom of the table, so the test for us now is to make it five or six games.

"We’ve got games coming up against the likes of Exeter, Lincoln and Crawley, who are all around us, so the next few weeks will be a telling part of the season. If we can come through those with another good batch of points, then we’ll be in a great position."

And he's had the added honour of stepping in as club captain through what has been an enjoyable run.

"I've really enjoyed filling in for Danny [Grainger]," he said. "It’s a job that every manager at every club I’ve played at has given me at some stage, so I’m very happy to keep that little stat going here at Carlisle.

"Especially when it’s come at a time when we’ve notched off some consecutive wins to go along with it. I think it’s probably only natural when your captain is injured or not selected that your next port of call is someone with experience, which in the likes of myself, Clint, Jonesy, Joycey ... to just name a few ... we’ve definitely got.

"But Dan is a leader and a friend who has been here a few years now, and he has been fantastic and his usual self around the dressing room. We all know he's desperate to get back out there and lead us. In his absence I’m very happy to keep his armband warm."

Looking ahead to the weekend trip to Exeter City, he said: “If you were a betting man I think you’d definitely put money on there being at least a couple of goals in the game on Saturday after the encounters we had with Exeter last season.

"We know it’s a difficult place to go. It’s another long journey after Barnet and Yeovil but we’re used to them and we know how to prepare ourselves correctly. If we can come out of the game with another decent result then we’ll put ourselves in a great position going into the games to follow.”


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