United’s director of football David Holdsworth faced the press for the first time since his summer appointment on Tuesday morning with a wide range of subjects covered by the local media.
We’ll be bringing a summary of the press conference on the official website over the course of the remainder of this week.
On coming to Carlisle United ...
“It’s great to be involved. It’s been a good start to the season for us, which I think everybody is buoyed by, and there’s been a lot of hard work done in the summer, and during the season so far, to make sure that’s been the case. Things are progressing nicely, and we’re pleased.
“I think I’m here now because people have realised the importance of having a link between the football side of the business and the board. I’ve been a manager myself, and bringing someone in who has that combination of experience, knowledge of contracts and the financial aspects of that side of the business is a bold and good move by the club, in my opinion.
“I would probably have appreciated having somebody like it when I was a manager. It means John [Sheridan] can get on with his job while I get on with dealing with the other side of it. The important thing is that John knows me, and he knows what I’m about. He looks after the team and he identifies the players he wants, then I do the contractual stuff. There will be times when I have to say no, but we all understand that.
“He knows I’m not here to look at his position. I’ve been offered manager’s jobs between now and my previous job, and I don’t want one. I enjoy the role I have. I like working with people, I like communicating, none more so than with the fans, but we need a more structured club at the moment and I’m determined to be part of putting that in place.
“The start to the season has been very good but we were probably six to eight weeks behind on the day we brought John in. The good thing is that we’ve managed to put a small squad together in a short space of time that is determined to do well.
“John is pushing his players every day to get more out of them. Look at the Cambridge game – we weren’t at the races in the first half but we have a manager who can go in, speak honestly about what is needed, and he sorted things out. He’s a manager who is a leader, and that’s exactly what we need.
On the appointment of John Sheridan ...
“First and foremost, I came in to help the board establish a good manager. I was asked by the club to help them find a candidate who was going to be able to help us to do a job. It was actually very difficult, but it’s about having contacts.
“We developed a shortlist of fine candidates, which included a couple of very good young managers who I believe will go on to manage well, but this was a different situation of needing to pick up the pieces from the last manager. That’s difficult and we’re still dealing with that.
“There were some other senior managers we looked at, but John did stand out. He has a knowledge of this division and a real ability to win games. He’s very rarely out of work and that’s because he’s a good man. We have a manager in with us now who certainly knows this division, and we’re more than happy that he’s here.
“John is a good man and he’s brought in his staff, who are working very hard to make the team successful. We’ve been very demanding from day one, in a nice way, and I think that’s important. We have a manager who puts his demands on the players and they’re responding.
“We had a good pre-season and we knew that it was imperative to try to hit the ground running. John has set high expectations and I’m quite pleased about that. It’s paid off for us.
“The job of the manager is sometimes fragile, we’re all aware of that. John is aware of that more than anybody else because he’s the one doing the job for us. It works the other way as well, because if he brings us success we’ll then have a job on to keep him here.
“I think we’ve been very fortunate in the time span we had to pick someone up of his quality. It’s a very demanding job and that’s why you need support, and that’s another reason why I’m here. I’ll be there to help and support him whenever he needs it.”
On the club’s academy system ...
“The demands on the youth system should be in place because it’s a hugely important area of the club. Whether that has or hasn’t been the case before, it isn’t a blame culture, I’m not interested in that. It’s a case of everybody being accountable. Now the window is shut I’ll be getting more involved in finding out the process of how the academy works, and I’ll be looking at how they train as well.
“I’ll also be asking about the quality we have coming through because we want to be encouraging youngsters to stay at this club and to be loyal to us. That’s something we must establish.
“There’s no point in saying you’ve got a youth system just for the sake of it – it has to work. I hope to speak to all of the staff inside the youth system to find out how, when and if we can have another face coming through.
“I saw what the supporters were like when we brought on one of their young players, and John has encouraged the youngsters to train with the first team to give them a taste of that as well. That gives you belief and confidence as a young boy, and it’s what every kid dreams of.
“We want to make the dreams reality by setting up a firm delivery of training but, again, it takes a little bit of time, but the demands will be there. Our message is that young players will be in a club that will support them and give them a platform to develop a career.
“Parents are key to the development of kids because they see the bright lights of the big clubs, but becoming the next David Beckham doesn’t happen very often. Our advice is for them to come to a club that has a good structure. If there’s a process where a club comes in and pays the right money, I’m fine with that. That’s the nature of the beast. But if we’re doing things right here it makes it more likely the good young players will stay. That’s what we want.
“You’ll hear me talk about loyalty all the time and we’ll be loyal to all of our players, whatever their age. It’s the same with the staff. A good example is that Gavin Skelton was approached recently by a club, and he could have left us.
“I sat down with him and I explained that we didn’t want him to go. We like him, and we’ll reciprocate that loyalty to him. People need to know he’s a good, fine young man, and it was quite a tough decision for him to make. I think he should be applauded for his loyalty.
“That’s the type of people we want at this football club. It won’t make any difference in me being firm with him as I look for him to deliver the right approach within his role in the academy, but he knows I trust him and we need that inside our football club.”