We caught up with new keeper coach Craig Wight to find out more about the man behind the gloves as he begins to get his teeth into his role here at Brunton Park.
The 40-year old joined United last week and we immediately thrust him under the spotlight with the local press to talk about his decision to join the club.
Speaking first about a pathway which has taken him from Scotland, to America, then back to Scotland via Finland, and finally here to Cumbria, he spoke about the importance of getting maximum enjoyment out of every day and taking every opportunity that comes your way.
“I’ve had a crazy career, but I think things would be very boring if we all followed what you would call conventional routes in life,” he said. “I think it’s a bit more interesting doing things off-the-cuff and accepting what happens to you. I find every day to be an adventure and every day is enjoyable, and I think that’s just a great way to be.
“The next part of that journey is coming here. The opportunity to be a full-time keeper coach at a very well-run club was the big thing that attracted me to the job. These positions in Scotland are fairly few and far between. Coaches in those jobs tend to hang about for a considerable period of time.
“This is something I want to throw everything at because I want it to succeed. Having spoken to the manager and to Mr Holdsworth it was a no-brainer for me. Travel isn’t going to be an issue, particularly with some of the distances I had to cover in Finland and America, so it’s just a job I really want to get my teeth into.”
And he revealed that he had his father to thank for picking up on the Brunton Park vacancy as he sat down to enjoy his breakfast one morning a couple of weeks ago.
“I think he was in between reading his book and having his coffee when he spotted it, and he asked me if I’d read about the fact that the Carlisle keeper coach had just quit,” he explained. “I sat down and looked at it and I decided to go old school. I printed my CV off, put it an envelope and sent it off, making sure someone had to sign for it at the other end.
“I didn’t hear anything, and you do wonder if that’s that. You can build things up too much, so I just thought to myself, they’ve got my CV and if I get a call back, that’s brilliant.
“The call did come, and I absolutely devastated that my dad had got the number wrong when he’d taken the message. I thought my chance had gone, because I left messages and I just couldn’t get through. I was at a point where I didn’t want to be reading any more about Carlisle United. This club was dead to me! Then they phoned back and it was all good again.”
Bringing a very visible level of energy and enthusiasm to the role, he told us: “The way I see it is that some opportunities don’t come along too often, and this might just be my chance.
“I may never get another one like it, so why wouldn’t I embrace it and enjoy for everything it is? That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about it. It’s very easy on a daily basis to find hundreds of negatives.
“Somebody pulled out in front of me in traffic this morning, so that’s a negative, but the positive from it is that I didn’t crash, nothing bad happened, nobody died. I just feel you should always be as positive as you can be because positivity breeds even more positivity.
“We can all be negative, but how much worse is life when you are? As we all know the TV pundits make a living out of highlighting the negatives, but I think it’d be much more enjoyable and watchable if they took it the other way.
“I can’t wait to be getting on with things now, to be honest with you. Having spoken to David about what he’s done since he came in it’s clearly a chance for us all to push on.”
And on working with keeping duo Adam Collin and Louis Gray, he said: “When you join a keeper group things just take over automatically.
“I see every day as an experience and a chance of learning something new. I don’t think anybody should ever stop learning and the more my keepers ask the more information I will give them.
“With Adam and Louis, the more you can do to help people improve the better it’s going to be all-round. I’m not someone who will bombard them with information, because I don’t think you learn by just being told something. They’re better off being able to ask a question and then go out and put it into practice.
“Yes, only one of them can play, but I want them to be working together for the good of the club all the time. It’s on them to work closely as a pair to get the best out of each other. If there’s something which crops up where we don’t know the answer, I want us all working together to get there.
“I did a little bit of homework on both of them before I came down, so I wasn’t coming blind, but with that being said there’s only so much you can see until you get to work with them up close.
“I think they’re very talented keepers and once we get into working more thoroughly I’m sure there’ll be things we can start implementing. The biggest thing for me is that they enjoy what they do and that they’re willing to communicate back as to what they’re looking for.”
“In a nutshell, I want to give them ownership of their own position,” he commented. “As I keep saying, I’m a goalkeeping geek and I love everything about it. I think it’s the best position on the pitch by a long way.
“For me there are two types of coach. You can either be outcome based or process based. Outcome based is fairly black and white – did you save it or did you not? Process based means you can go through every stage of a goal being scored, or a save being made, to find out why the outcome was the way it was.
“I think that’s the best way for a keeper to learn because he will then go into the next game knowing what it was that had happened in the last one. That’s something we will bring into their process of analysing and evaluating situations.”
And his final word was for the coaching staff he’ll be working with as he settles in to his new surroundings here in Cumbria.
“I enjoy watching keepers make saves, even the simple ones, but it’s when you get back into the manager’s room that it gets interesting,” he admitted. “Have you seen Tommy and Muzz, they just stare at you – it’s very scary!
“You’ve then got the gaffer who played in the World Cup, and my brother sent me a photo of Shez last week asking if it was my new boss. Maldini was blurred out in the background – who on earth ever blurs out Maldini!! That shows how good Shez was.
“To be given the chance to work with people who have played at the levels these guys have played at is amazing. There’s just no way you can’t embrace that.
“It’s just a fantastic opportunity and it takes me back to a piece of advice I once got. A teacher I had in college in America said you should be child-like without being child-like.
“If you take that attitude into everything you do it makes everything new and exciting, and that’s an advantageous approach to take into every session and every game.”
In part two of the interview, on the official website on Saturday morning, Craig Wight talks about what he took from his time living and working in Finland.
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