United’s final outing of 2020 at Harrogate saw the club’s footballing year fizzle out when match referee Martin Coy made the decision to abandon the game with just eight minutes played, but it did little to detract from what has been an excellent first half (almost) of an exciting campaign for the Blues.
With his team sat in third place as we roll into 2021, manager Chris Beech said: “I’m very pleased with what we’ve done.
“If I remove any sort of thoughts towards the table, I agree we should have more points, just in substance of what’s happened on Saturdays and Tuesdays. I’m very pleased for everybody, because it’s factual value to hard work and good decisions, and we haven’t had too much luck in that.
“I can’t wait for that to join the party as well. You could argue the other night might have been a little tinge of that at Harrogate. I think the referee called the right call to be honest, it was very difficult to defend, maybe we’ve had a little touch of that, or maybe not, because the pitch was unplayable in the end.”
“I’m really pleased for everybody and it’s great that everybody gets excited,” he continued. “While everybody does get excited, I have to concentrate on all the discrepancies that happen, there’s going to be some bumps in the road with personnel and direction and I have to steer through it as best as I can.
“If you’ve got more finance you can have three Nick Andertons in the building, so when he’s not available, the other two are, but we have to do it differently. We have to find an answer from a different situation, we have to think differently while trying not to complicate too much what is football.
“It will never change. You have to protect something, play a little bit in the middle, and try and gain something at the other end.”
But looking once again at the table, there is a sense that the team is where it deserves to be (possibly even with a few more points to their name) from the way they’ve played this season.
“I think we’ve done very well and we just have to take stock of that,” he commented. “You don’t always get everything that you deserve or feel you’ve earned. You could argue that you don’t deserve it if you don’t score more or defend more correctly.
“I’m very pleased with our efforts, that we’re sticking to our traits, very pleased for the supporters that we can somehow escape the coronavirus and concentrate on Carlisle. Sometimes it’s very difficult for us working in these circumstances.
“I’m very proud of how my staff and our team have gone about that, as players, socially too. Because there are lots of questions out there. If you put all that into one bag, you could argue you’d like to have a few more points, but ultimately it’s been one unbelievable effort from everybody and we have to try and continue it.”
The January transfer window, of course, creaks open at midnight so the natural question was to ask if anything is likely to be done ahead of the weekend trip to Walsall.
“Possibly,” he replied. “Some of these things you don’t control, some you have control of, some you have your best wishes at heart and things don’t work out, some things you don’t expect and things drop in.
“It’s basically keeping an open mind, trying to have an answer for a conundrum that hasn’t happened yet, and meanwhile preparing to play Walsall. That’s my full concentration until the phone rings and things change, that’s where I’m at.”
And on the window in general, he added: “I’ll try our best to look to make us stronger. That’s all we can do. Unfortunately we’re in a situation where supporters can’t come back.
“I know from a financial perspective, 2,000 people coming to Carlisle I don’t think it generated funds. A lot of the supporters are grateful and paid for their season ticket, that then reduced iFollow.
“It’s a strange situation, but in terms of the club, we have to look after the finances because we want to be here for tomorrow, whatever happens. We have to try and look where we are, and how to try and maximise what we’re doing.
“Being honest, we’re doing that already and we have to look to try and continue that. We have to wait and see what happens with one or two individuals, and then that will mean we’ll have to make different moves from that point, dependent on what happens with those people.
“With Rhys Bennett and the loan players, there are conversations to be had. Rhys wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t here, that’s fact. I want him to stay, and he has always stated from day one of coming, that if there is an alternative, it’s to meet his requirement.
“Originally he had one foot in a Championship club in the summer. It depends on his options. From a financial point of view the club are doing their best to try and support Rhys being here in the current circumstances. We have to make that work.
“If it lands in, which is what we want, I want, the club, Andrew, the supporters want, that would be fantastic. If it doesn’t, we have to do what I’ve done from the first day of getting through this door, and work in a no-excuse environment and find alternative answers.
“In terms of the loan players, we’ve had quite a few lads on loan and of course you want to retain their services if you feel you’ve got value to that service, 100 per cent.”