The wonders of modern technology brought us up close and personal with new arrival Morgan Feeney this week as we managed to catch up with him a day before he was set to meet his new teammates for the first time.
A fascinating Zoom-based interview that turned into more of a chat revealed a confident young defender who is determined to make his mark as he joins a club which he feels matches his ambitions.
Speaking first about how the move developed, he told us: “It’s been in the pipeline for a few weeks, but there’s been strong interest shown since it was made aware that there wasn’t going to be anything at Sunderland.
“I was just very excited to know that a club like Carlisle were interested in me. Once things progressed I was keen to jump at the chance and I’m pleased that we’ve got it done in the end.”
“I was fortunate enough to have a fair bit of interest but, for me, Carlisle was a club with ambitions similar to mine,” he confirmed. “When I spoke to David and the manager it made me realise that this is a project I want to get involved with and I know it’ll be a good place for me to be at the moment.
“The fact it’s League Two doesn’t bother me. It’s a new challenge, a good challenge for me. I want to come here and do well, but I honestly see Carlisle as a big club anyway.
“They shouldn’t be in the league they’re in, they should be higher, and I think everybody at the club will agree with that. Hopefully I can be a part of helping that to happen.
“I see this move as massive for me. I just want to knuckle down and get as many games as possible now. For me, Carlisle was the perfect club for me to be able to do that so that I can take my career forward.”
And he also confirmed that he’s at an age now where he feels ready to showcase what he’s about.
“Yeah, exactly, I’ve been unfortunate with injuries the last couple of seasons but I think I can put that behind me now,” he insisted. “I want this to be a platform I can build on so that I can get myself going again and do well for me and the club.
“I mentioned the injuries, and with the types of injuries they were, it’s not something I could have done anything about. It was a little bit unlucky also with the way they came about because they weren’t really preventable injuries at the time, so that was very frustrating.
“It’s part and parcel of being a footballer I suppose, and you’ve got to be mentally strong to move on from it. That’s why I didn’t allow it to affect my confidence or self-belief.
“I’ve always been very motivated to do what I want to do in my career and when you have knock backs which take football away from you it makes you even more hungry to get back and push on. Like I say, I just want to show everybody what I can do now.”
When United fanned the flames of their interest it emerged that there were other suitors, but it was the conversations with the manager already alluded to that helped to swing the decision Cumbria’s way.
“The gaffer spoke about the fact he’d known me for many years, since I was a young boy, and he’d even seen me play a bit when I was a kid,” he told us. “He talked about what he knew about how I play and then he told me about what he believes in, and what the squad here at the moment believes in.
“It’s always nice when the manager has a portfolio on you and he knows what your strengths and weaknesses are. It was very nice to hear when he told me that, and it was good to hear where he thinks he can help me to improve. Honest conversations like that are really refreshing and it was a big part of why I’m here.
“The style of football was another big thing and it didn’t take much to convince me, if I’m being honest. He made it clear what it was I was coming to and how hard I’m going to have to work to make sure I’m part of it.
“People can say as much as they want but it needs to feel right, beyond the words, and that’s certainly how I was made to feel about this move when I spoke to everybody.
“I’ve made sure I’ve stayed on top of my fitness and strength and I’ve made sure I’m in the best shape I can be. Coming back from the injury at Sunderland I made sure I trained hard and through this period I’ve had a running plan, and I’ve been out working on my local grass.
“I feel fitter than I’ve ever felt and stronger than I’ve ever felt so I’m raring to go and I can’t wait to get out there.”
And we wondered if a quick glance at the league table had also helped to sway the thought process.
“They’ve done well to get to this point and they’re clearly a good team,” he agreed. “I played against them at the Stadium of Light earlier in the season, I was lucky enough to be involved in that, and it stood out that they were very aggressive in how they went about things.
“They were constantly on the front foot and they put us under a lot of pressure that day. I admired it and that style of play is something I remembered, and I said to myself back then that it was a club that was going to do well. It’s no surprise to me that they’re up at the top.
“I want to be part of that. I don’t want to come here and be in the background, I’ll support the lads all the way whatever happens, but I want to be a big part of it.
“I’d like to think I’ll add something to the team once I get up and running. Hopefully I’ll be able to show that when I get the opportunity to play.”
So what type of player can we expect to see?
“First and foremost I like to defend,” he told us. “That’s the job of a centre half and I pride myself on clean sheets, winning headers and tackles, and working hard as a defensive unit.
“I’m adaptable in a sense that I’ll do whatever the manager asks me to do, and if that means playing in a slightly different way then I’ll do it.
“A massive part of my game is being vocal on the pitch, organising, talking. Wherever I go I take that with me and I’d like to think I’ll have it here. I am vocal and hopefully that will be a benefit rather than something that gets in the way.”
A big part of this weekend has been the first opportunity to get to meet the rest of the bunch.
“The circumstances have been unusual, you normally go somewhere and meet everybody straight away,” he explained. “I briefly met the lads on a Zoom call the other night, but it’s a bit of a strange one to do it that way.
“We’re on the training ground soon so I’ll be able to meet them properly and get settled in. I played with George Tanner in the England under-18s, so I know him, and he’s a really good lad.
“I know he’s a hard-working player and I’ve seen how well he’s done here. When you see that you know you’d be daft to turn down an opportunity like this.”
Looking back at his career so far he admitted that as a Toffee-nose as a youngster, and a Goodison season ticket holder for many years, it had been an honour to have forged his path with his boyhood club.
“I’m a big Blue and it was just a huge privilege to play for the club I love,” he said. “It’s all about this new challenge for me now, even though I will always look back with fond memories. Hopefully I can create many more of those here with Carlisle.
“But, yes, it was a dream come true. Everton is a club that produces so many good players no matter what they’ve gone on to do in their careers.
“It’s more than just being a good player, they make you a good person as well because they teach you from a very young age about how to act and how to conduct yourself. They make sure that you work hard and that you’re polite, and that you’re going about things in the right way. I’d like to think I’ve taken a lot of those qualities with me.
“The fondest memory is obviously going through the whole academy system then to be fortunate enough to get a couple of games in the first team in the Europa League. I’ll always look back with pride at that.
“It was unbelievable. It was my boyhood club, so it was a very proud moment to be in the first team. They were European nights as well, so it was a great experience. We played one in Cyprus and one in Goodison, and the fans have different feelings and sing different songs for both, so it was really good to experience something like that.
“Obviously at a club like that you get to play and train with world class players. I’d say I’ve taken a little bit of something from all of them.
“I took a lot in terms of leadership and those sorts of qualities from Seamus Coleman. He was always very good with myself and all of the other young lads, and I looked up to him because he was a very good captain.
“He was very vocal on the pitch and a really good player. The way he went about his business in the gym and on the training pitch was admirable and great for the young lads to see.
“I do have fond memories of my time there, and I look back with pride, but circumstances meant that I moved on to Sunderland. That didn’t go the way I wanted it to through injury, and then with the change of manager, but all of that is gone now and I’m at a point where I’m really looking forward to kicking on.”
The timing of his move meant that he briefly got to meet Cumbrian youngster Jarrad Branthwaite, when he made his January 2020 switch to the Blue side of Merseyside.
“I played a few matches with him and he’s a really good lad,” he said. “He’s a good player and it’s brilliant that he got a few games last season. He’s now got a good loan move and hopefully he’ll have a good career with Everton.
“I didn’t speak to him about Carlisle because he’s been on the move himself, and this all happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to reach out to too many people.
“I didn’t really have to, in a sense, because I was in no doubt that this was the right place for me. I didn’t need any reassurance on that.”