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INTERVIEW: I'm happy at this club

Lewis Alessandra on his new deal

21 May 2020

United’s first signing news of the summer was welcomed with open arms by the Blue Army when it was revealed on Tuesday night that forward Lewis Alessandra had agreed a new deal.

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The striker, 31 last month, had made a positive impression with his professional approach since his arrival on a short-term contract in January as he became an integral part of a team that produced improved results and performances, taking them away from the bottom reaches of the table as they almost doubled their points-per-game ratio with a more resolute and determined approach.

Speaking about his decision to commit his immediate future to the club, he said: “It is good to get it finalised, I think that goes without saying. It’s an uncertain time for everybody, in football and in every other workplace, and the whole country is going through a period of change, with none of us really sure what the outcome will be.

“Getting it done this early takes away a lot of uncertainty on a personal level, but I think it’s been a little bit of a different situation for myself because I was on that short-term deal with the club from when I first came up here in January.

“That meant that my current contract was due to expire this coming Saturday, so I think the intention from the gaffer and David [Holdsworth] was always to get it sorted before that became the case.

“I’d spoken to them anyway and they knew I was happy here, but it’s purely the timing of my contract running out as to why I’m the only one to have things done and dusted up to now.

“The year option is in the club’s favour and I don’t think anyone will have any problem with that. If you do well you know you’ll get rewarded, and it covers the club if you do have a good season, which is the outcome everybody wants at the end of the day.

“From the short time I’ve been up here already I know I’m happy, and I can see that being exactly the same in a year’s time. Without sounding too over-confident, I feel like it’s going to be a good season and I can’t wait to be part of it.”

“I’m still really grateful that the manager wanted to keep me and that we were able to agree things relatively quickly,” he added. “No player wants to be out of contract at the end of the season and it’s always a good feeling once you get things tied down.

“The best thing about it for me is that it’s a good club and I’m really enjoying my football. I can remember saying in an interview just after the Cambridge game that I would jump at the chance of staying, if an offer was put on the table.

“That didn’t change for me and thankfully that’s how it’s worked out, because there’s definitely a good feeling around the place about how we’re going to push on again from the improvements we made through the second half of last season.”

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On what the manager has said about next season, he told us: “I have a good working relationship with the gaffer and that always helps. Being honest, I did worry with that the way the season ended, and with everything that’s going on, maybe there wouldn’t be a contract offer made.

“Obviously clubs - and that includes Carlisle United - are looking at how they’re going to do things going forward, so I knew that meant there were no guarantees for me. It’s obvious to anyone who knows the game that lower league clubs are facing a period of no income, and that will be hard.

“With the way things ended up going I’d only had about three months of playing, so that could have been a factor as well. I talked to the gaffer about the fact I wanted to help the club in any way I could, which has probably been reflected in what I’ve signed, but I’m just grateful for how clear it was made by the club as to how much they wanted me to stay.

“I’ve talked with Chris quite a few times these last few weeks and we’ve had some good chats about what he wants from next season. There are all sorts of rumours about possible restrictions on budgets being imposed by the authorities, and things like that, but I know that David and Chris will be working hard to recruit really well and to add to what we already have at the club so that we’ll be competing and getting the results we want.

“The gaffer checks in with all of the lads regularly and, like I say, we have a good working relationship, which I think is important. Having worked with him before it means he knows me as a person and he knows how I approach things.

“He’s a manager who just wants things to be moving forward and improving all the time and, again, that’s no bad thing. If you sit still in this game you go backwards, so you need an environment where you’re going to be pushed and where you can help to push others.”

Along with the news of his new deal came a wave of support across social media as the fans reacted positively to the news.

“I try not to look at social media too much, but I did see some comments which were really nice to read and that’s very much appreciated from me,” he said. “It’s a great fan base at our club because when they see you put the effort in and give it all you’ve got, they get behind you.

“We were starting to marry that up with better results and more quality as well, and that’s what we want to build on. Personally I just want to keep getting better and better. That doesn’t change, whatever age you are or wherever you are in your career, and it’s a big part of what motivates me.

“I remember when I came up here in January that I used the words ‘an underwhelming signing’ when I spoke about what the fans might think, and I knew I had to get out there and show people what I was about. I suppose in some ways it felt like I needed to prove to some of them that they were wrong.

“That wasn’t meant in a bad way, I just knew there was a job to do and I knew I was ready to do it. More goals would have helped, so I am disappointed to only have got the one, and I remember missing a sitter a week or two before I got my goal against Cambridge, and that annoyed me.

“The relief when I did score was the reason behind the celebration at the time, because it does mean a lot, particularly if you go on to win the game. Again, being honest, if you ask me if I’d rather play well and draw nil-nil or play mediocre and score the winner, I think you’d know which one I’d pick.

“But, going back to the original point, the fans have made this an easy decision for me. They’re just so welcoming if you give them what they want and that’s all you can ask for.”

We’ll have more from Lewis on the official website on Friday morning.

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