It was an excellent start to life with Carlisle United for new arrival on Saturday afternoon as he played a major part in the build up to both of the home side’s goal scoring set piece situations and picked up the man of the match award for good measure.
We caught up with him after the Walsall victory to get his take on his first day in a blue shirt.
“However I played the win is the most important thing,” he said. “I don’t think there was a lot of quality in the game, to be honest. My performance, even though people are saying I did ok, was purely based on hard work and endeavour instead of quality, but overall it was just one of those scrappy League Two games.
“We scored two good goals but we conceded at such a poor time in the second half. It was a professional performance in the latter half of the second half to see it out and we can be pleased with that.
“When you’re in this situation I think you take a scrappy win and the three points instead of playing pretty stuff and being nice to watch only to draw or lose. We did deserve the win and it was probably down to the hard work of all the lads that we got it. Getting points is what it’s all about for us right now and they’ll keep coming if we keep working as hard as that.”
Very quickly after the final whistle had blown he was whisked away to meet the sponsors to be handed his award as recognition of his full-blooded performance.
“Listen, I’m not daft, I know I was probably a bit of an underwhelming signing and you see a bit of reaction [on social media] and stuff like that when it’s first announced that you’re coming,” he told us. “I’m 30 now and I understand how football is. This is a big club, so to play well and get that award from the sponsors was nice.
“It’s just the first step on the road of coming in and helping Carlisle to hopefully play even better every week. I think I got man of the match due to the hard work that I put in rather than anything else.
“I haven’t played in over a month and to be honest I was feeling it in the last five minutes or so there. It just didn’t feel like I was on the ball that much and I can’t remember a point where I took more than two or three touches, and I’m the kind of player who likes to be involved more than that.
“Hopefully that side of it will come. During the game I was thinking that it was going to open up a bit for me when people started to get tired, but it just didn’t happen. Like I say, it’s a good start but I want to be doing more.”
The game saw him play just behind Ryan Loft in a 4-4-1-1 formation, with licence to affect the game whenever the Blues had the ball.
“I do enjoy playing there,” he confirmed. “I can play on either wing, up top or in the hole and I played a big chunk of last season, before my injury, in centre midfield.
“I’m just a forward-thinking player but I do prefer to be central on the pitch. That’s when you can drop in and help the midfield if they need it, or you can get around the striker as he puts himself about. I enjoy the running side of it and it’s good to be inside the pocket where you can get on the ball, even though I didn’t get to do too much of that in the Walsall game.
"The big thing is that we got the win and we opened a gap. If we have a good week we can extend that even further and hopefully that’ll be what we’ve done come full time next Saturday.”
Talking about his move up north from Morecambe, he said: “I know a few of the lads anyway – Geth Jones, Adam Collin and Nathan Thomas – so I knew I was coming into a dressing room with some good people in it.
“There’s good quality for this level in there and I think the message from the manager is one they’re taking on. They all know we have to work as hard as we can as a group and that we need performances which are ultimately going to get us results.
“It has been a few days where it’s felt like my head is spinning, but it’s all good. My contract at Morecambe didn’t run out until Thursday so it has been a quick turnaround. Everybody has been really welcoming and the fact is you’ve just got to get on with it.
“It’s a game of footy and I’ve played 400 and odd of them now professionally, and I’m happy that I’m here for this new challenge. It’s good that we’re sat here with smiles on our faces and three points to talk about.”
On what helped him to make the decision to come to Brunton Park, he explained: “I’ve got a lot of respect for the gaffer. I’ve worked for him before when he was the number two and he’s a good bloke and a good footballing brain.
“I think he just says it how it is, even if that isn’t what you want to hear sometimes. Some people might struggle with that, but it’s how it should be. When we had the conversation about the move he said that he’d love me to come here and, having worked with him before, I was immediately buzzing about it.
“It’s a good club that shouldn’t be where it is, but I think there’s no secret that it’s in a bit of a transitional period. That’s why we just need to get it right on the pitch and start putting points on the board. We want to get away from looking over our shoulders and, if we carry this on, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
When asked if he still feels he has something to prove from this new challenge, he said: “Definitely because, let’s face it, if I had been poor today then those who felt I was an underwhelming signing would go away feeling they were right to think that.
“I think you want to prove yourself wherever you go. I’m coming from a team below us in the table and, with no disrespect to Morecambe, Carlisle is probably a bigger club, so I want to play well here. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Morecambe, I want them to do well, but it is what it is. I feel happy with the move here.
“We all know what we need to do, and why. I’ve been relegated and it’s one of the worst feelings ever. When it happened with Hartlepool, and then with Notts County, it was mad. At Notts we were favourites to win the league, so it was so frustrating when it happened.
“There were a few changes of manager and stuff like that, but I felt like I was doing really well through the first half of the season. I picked up a knee injury and I was out for eight weeks and when I came back I just wasn’t quite the same. I needed another pre-season if I’m being honest.
“I didn’t play many games and I felt helpless as I watched it all from the sidelines. The whole situation was really hard to take and it’s a terrible feeling to go through. You feel like you’ve let everyone down so I’ll be working doubly as hard and getting the boys as up for it as I can so that we can move away from it quickly. Hopefully we can then enjoy the last maybe 10 or 12 games of the season because we’ll have enough on the board to be safe.
“Having been through it before, the thing about it is that it’s relegation from the Football League into non-league, and that’s such a big thing. Some teams can flutter between League One and Two and it’s not as sudden, because you’re still in the leagues and not dropping out of it.
“It’s a horrible feeling and it ruins your summer. That’s why it gives me that fire to do everything I can to bring everyone along with me to say this isn’t happening, no way.”
With the contract covering the remainder of this season, we wondered if he’d looked beyond that a possible extended stay in Cumbria.
“I’d love to, yes,” he replied. “As frustrating as it is I can kind of understand the way the gaffer has gone with me signing a four-month deal. He’s told me to get out there and prove myself because, if I don’t, I’ll be in the same situation again in the summer.
“I don’t think it matters either way because I’d work my butt off regardless. I can imagine at my age – not that I’m old – but obviously at 30 you’re not going to get these long-term deals the young prospects are getting. I’m not sure I’ll have any sell-on value anymore, I’m being honest about that situation, so it’s up to me to work hard.
“That’s what I’ll do in every game, including the two coming up this week. If you go and get maximum points from these it makes it nine in seven days and a perfect week. Suddenly you find that you’ve jumped right up and the mindset is completely different.
“Hopefully that’ll be the case. Forest Green and Mansfield will be tough, there’s no doubt. I’ve played Forest Green and I thought they were one of the best teams we’d faced, I can’t put my finger on why, but they’re a very effective team. They’re up where they are for a reason and it’ll be a tough game, but we’re looking forward to it.”
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