With details confirmed on Christmas morning that manager Chris Beech has had his stay with the club extended until at least the summer of 2022, we caught up with him to get his reaction to this very good news.
“I’ve always said I’m very honoured to be head coach of this football club,” he said. “It’s gone really well since the day I walked in and I’m very proud of that fact.
“I’m pleased that the club has seen the work that’s been done and that they’re looking to support it, and I’m very thankful of everybody that they’ve committed to that.
“Like I’ve said before, thank you to the chairman and Carlisle United for giving me the opportunity to be their number one, or however you want to describe the role.
“Even more important than that is that it’s about everybody - the staff, the admin staff, the supporters and all those who help in any way.
“I have to say that it’s a privilege for me to work with this group of players and to stand in front of them every day and get to speak to them. All I want is to challenge them, encourage them and to get them doing things on the football pitch in the way they have been this season.
“I want them to represent the community of Carlisle with the hardworking traits and honesty the fans expect.
“If they stick to those values, which they have done along with some really good football and good goals we’ve scored added to it, then we won’t go far wrong, particularly if it carries on.”
When player contracts are finalised they often talk about it being a relief, but we wondered if that was the same for a manager, in terms of being able to put it behind them and get on with the job at hand.
“No, not really, because it’s always the case that you’ve just got to win your next game,” he insisted. “The contract side of it doesn’t really matter. It’s that stocks and shares thing, you’re judged on the value of three points in this game.
“How you get them is up to you, but we’re very proud of how we play. It’s fast, attacking football and we don’t over complicate things or over value possession inside or around our own box.
“We understand that the way we play has positives and great things to it, so that’s what we want to continue to do.”
And it’s that style of play, developed and grown over the last 12 months, which has brought the reward of the contract extension.
“Like I say, I’m very grateful to the chairman and to David as we’ve tried hard to get to this point,” he commented. “They’ve both been trying to knock on my door for quite a while to sort this out, and often these things do take a little bit of time.
“Their patience and understanding have been appreciated and nothing in terms of what we’re trying to achieve has changed. All we can do is look to play our next opponent, and in this case that’s Bolton.”
“The players are key to everything we want to do, and we’ve done well with our recruitment with that in mind,” he added. “We keep pushing at that angle and if you look at our younger players they see what’s expected as well, and then it’s about how they go about what we need them to do.
“It’s important, and we’ve actually had a few lads training with us today [Christmas Eve] even though the session is about preparation for Bolton.
“Sam Fishburn trained with us, having done ever so well in the reserve game at Rochdale, and we’re going to try to bring on those traits and important values we have with our younger lads if we can.
“In the footballing world things often change with time and you have to try to find an answer when that happens. I’d love to go and buy the answer, or for it to already be here, but we have to look to develop it from within if there’s a possibility of doing that.”
So does the manager having a longer-term stay with a club make the recruitment work he wants to do any easier?
“I’d like to think so, yes,” he replied. “I suppose if I was very, very selfish, I didn’t have to commit at this point, and you’re probably more attainable if you don’t.
“I’m not really like that as a person, I like to build things and I’ve been doing this sort of thing for a long time. I’ve been coaching since I was 29 and I’m 46 now, so I’ve been at this job for a long period.
“That’s been done by working with a lot of players, I’ve developed a lot of people, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with a lot of good people who have helped me in different ways.
“Now we’ve found a new situation here at Carlisle that I want to keep progressing. What we have to make sure is that this is just a new start line for us and that we keep moving forward.”
And whatever the limitations or obstacles thrown up by being the football league’s most northerly outpost, this seems to be a club that fits.
“It is, yes, and you’re right, there are some obstacles,” he agreed. “Even getting to talk to you today threw up some obstacles, because there’s always something going on.
“That’s just life, to be honest. You have to adapt and make things work. The best people, those who have longevity within the game, are the ones who do adapt and find a way to make things work until maybe one day you can reach a utopia where everything is there, or you can buy it if it isn’t, and everything is as you need it to be.
“That’s when you then have a scenario where you have everything laid on for you and you’re signing international footballers. But we’re a good club in our own right and you have to be realistic as well as optimistic.
“We’re developing what we have this season and we need to continue to grow it and make it better for the future. We’ve come from a difficult place just over a year ago, and if you stick the coronavirus amongst that along with two massive transfer windows, which was a big part of how I wanted to work at that time, it’s amazing that we’ve managed to do so much.
“I want to commit to our work, but I’ll never change, I just want us to always be growing and getting better together. We’re at a place now where it’s time to unite and step forwards, and not to go and do other things that could possibly come to you.
“The players have shown a real commitment to me in how they’ve played and worked, so I have to show a commitment to them as well. It’s a two-way street, but we know that football can be very fickle and you never know what can happen to you as an individual.
“I’m really pleased that we’ve got the contract matter put to bed and hopefully we can now keep delivering and growing.”
With chairman Andrew Jenkins having spoken highly of his manager after the contract extension had been agreed, he told us: “I have a lot of respect for Andrew. He’s a big part of why you want to do these things when they get put in front of you.
“It isn’t money orientated or anything like that, it’s from a point of view to progress. We all want to make sure the club is in a good place and everybody, not just me, has worked very hard to put us in a better position.
“Our job now is to understand why we’ve got here and continually look to make it even better, but at the same time as trying to keep ourselves financially stable, because the wider situation is still very difficult.”
“Working with David [Holdsworth] the way I do is part of that,” he added. “He does the finer points of the contracts and often, just like at home in a family, you can have strong and difficult conversations and a few differences.
“But if you have respect and understanding that you’re trying to get to a good place, sometimes you have to have give and take on both sides. I would imagine that some of the questions he has to ask on my behalf are difficult.
“It’s the same when I know I’m asking difficult things of him when I’m looking to the club to support us as much as they can as we try to progress together. Hopefully we’ll all keep doing that, and possibly we’ll find that we can also start to go a little bit faster and harder, and why not.”
Along with the head coach’s extension comes a similar agreement with Gav Skelton, his assistant.
“I touched on this a few weeks ago – it’s difficult when you come into a club on your own and you don’t really know anything about the place or the people,” he explained.
“We’ve had quite a few staff members leave along with loads of players, and you’re trying to get things moving along as that happens. When somebody tries to make a difference you’re midful that nobody likes being told that they might need to tweak something.
“They can easily be offended if you’re not careful, that’s just a human trait. You need to find a way of doing that at the same time as building up a belief in whoever it is you’re working with that it’s all being done for the better.
“Our way of working together has grown really strong between Gavin and me and I’m really pleased that he’s committing. It’s important that he gets rewarded for the hard work he’s done along with all of the other staff members and players.”
Finishing on his close relationship with the fans, he said: “It feels … thank you. I really do appreciate it.
“I know it isn’t always going to be on all of our terms and we’re going to have some tough situations in the future, and much of that depends on where this can grow to and possibly grow through.
“I’m really thankful to every single one of our Carlisle fans, it’s very good that they’re feeling this way. I’m fully aware of where it all comes from, it’s from having that relationship with them and from them seeing the efforts of the lads.
“We one hundred percent have to keep understanding that and on the good days it becomes unbelievable. We’ve had a lot of good days and we want to try to continue to keep having them, because there’s nothing better than that feeling of winning.
“That winning feeling is everything about a football club and it makes everything else work from that point. The way we’re doing that at the moment with our honest values is something I’m really proud of.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Chris Beech on iFollow United now.
Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.