United head to Valley Parade this weekend in good spirits, but it’s another game where manager Chris Beech expects tough opposition with the Bantams looking to get their season following a stuttering start.
“They’ve employed off the pitch to try and make directional change as a club,” he said, speaking ahead of the Saturday afternoon game. “They’ve committed to Stuart McCall, he’s recently signed another contract.
“What they’re doing as a workforce is trying to all work together to make that difference, and not necessarily just look at the manager to get the finger out and blame.
“They’re trying to create a culture to make a better place for everybody at Bradford. I’m aware of that. We’ve got to just make sure that, irrelevant of what goes on off the pitch, nothing actually changes until you’re on it and until the game starts.
“I was fortunate to play for some top class managers, Sam Allardyce, Steve Bruce, and they’d often say – Steve said, ‘You can never win anything before a game, or even at half-time – so just calm down, get your drink, the game can only ever change within the game. It’s what you do within the game that matters’.
“So whatever’s going on at the club is for them to get on with, and we just have to make sure we represent Carlisle and our supporters when we turn up.”
“I simply look at Bradford as an opponent and literally take each game as it comes,” he continued. “It’s a great saying and it’s no good planning the next six games, or where you want to be on Christmas Eve, it could be completely different by then.
“You have to make sure you respect your opponent, understand their strengths and weaknesses and make sure we’re right at it. That’s all you can ever do, and all we’ll be working towards playing against a committed team.
“They’re managed by an unbelievable manager with legendary status in football, he’s played at a high level, managed his team three times now, as well as other teams.
“It’s going to be difficult, we’re playing away, and I believe there’ll be no supporters there on Saturday. That may affect things but it doesn’t affect it unless you concentrate on your job, so if you’re going to head a ball, head it well, if you’re passing, pass it well, if you’re getting it back, go and get it, if you’re going to shoot, put the ball in the back of the net. That’s the best way to affect anything.”
With United having seen the benefit of having fans cheer them on during midweek, we wondered if those Tier 3 clubs, like Bradford, were facing an unfair disadvantage by having to play in an empty stadium.
“I would suggest yes, but at the moment it’s probably helping them,” he told us. “I’ve been at Bradford when they’re in the top six, and they’re being beaten at Valley Parade, and the supporters let the dugout know how they feel.
“At the moment I imagine it’s probably helping them, because there would be a lot of disgruntled season tickets being thrown down that massive stand they’ve got. It’s probably an advantage at the moment for them rather than a disadvantage for the players – players get nervous, they’re human, atmosphere affects everything.
“If you go in any sort of party and the music’s not right, and it doesn’t feel quite right, it’s the same thing as a football match.
“You have to make it feel like we did when we enabled our supporters on Wednesday. It’s probably a good thing, but I suppose if you associate with Bradford you could never admit to that. But in reality that’s probably how it is.”