We caught up with boss Chris Beech to talk about that three-point feeling following a strong display and a competent home victory against Bradford City on Saturday afternoon.
“It does feel very good,” he said. “I’ve got to credit the players for that, they put good effort in.
“We’ve been training very hard, and that’s despite the circumstances we’ve been put in since the turn of the year. On Tuesday we ran 3km more than in our previous games, so when I get the statistics from this I have no doubt we’re getting back to where we were.
“It’s such a shame the situation we were put in because we want to do so well for this great football club. But to play a team like Bradford, and we’ve managed to take six points off them, which is very good, they had a lot of energy, a lot of vigour to want to keep their great form in place.
“They travelled and stayed overnight, they’re trying to get back to winning games, so for us to do what we did, it would have taken a very good team to keep us out first half because we were excellent.”
With the manner of the victory a comfortable one, he told us: “Yes, in a way, but can win more comfortably even though 3-1 is a convincing win. We can make that easier.
“We had opportunities to make three goals become four and five. Bradford had two or three opportunities where they could have got back in a game where you could argue they don’t really deserve to.
“Chances went their way just because of a bit of naivety in clearances or heading. We actually won the first header for their goal, we headed it back across our box, so it’s that kind of thing that can harm the good work you’ve done.
“I can’t fault the effort to get first contact but we have to think about where we’re heading that football and the consequence of what we’re doing with it. But, in general, they did great. I’ve got to credit the players, they responded to me, we talked about playing more football in terms of passes, because we weren’t happy with Tuesday’s performance although very happy with the energy and the commitment to go right to the end to get the equaliser. I told the group that we’re good players, let’s just go and play football, and they did that for us.”
A highlight of what was a good performance was the way in which the team moved the ball about, both when creating chances and when looking to play through the lines.
“We look good when we’re in control of the ball and we need to do that more often,” he agreed. “If we look back, we took the league on by storm pre-Christmas and that was by doing every element of football.
“That’s by being very technical, quick, physical, good at many aspects of football, and we’re trying to get back up to those standards.
“I’ve had deep conversations with a couple of the boys this week, because I’ve been all sorts to them, from a coach to a manager to a dad, and that’s because we’ve had to deal with some unbelievable things that have been thrown at us.
“I want all of us to represent this club in the right way and when you watch things back you see things that may need to be discussed. One of the big things is that I want us to pass the ball more, because I think we’re more effective when we do.
“We worked on that in our training sessions, along with making sure we’re passing the ball for a reason, and the lads have put it into practice. We surprised Bradford with the energy and with the way we wanted to get behind them, and we played some really good football.”
And it’s always important, of course, to score and turn the screw through those periods within games where you’re on top.
“People would say they might be scruffy goals,” he commented. “They were good goals. It was the build-up of pressure and putting an opponent on the back foot, in footballing terms, some of the interplay, crosses, the goal activities, the runs, it was all really good football.
“It just puts very good players on the back foot and puts them under pressure. Ozzy’s goal is almost like a rugby touchdown, but he deserves his first goal through what happened and how he accommodates their centre halves.
“And then there’s chance Lewi Alessandra missed just before our first goal. It would have been understandable to start to think here we go again at that point, but that didn’t cross my mind.
“I knew we just had to keep going because the quality of football to get in that position was excellent. Brenan’s strike was Premier League power, hence a very good save from their goalkeeper.
“I don’t know how Lewi made a mess of that, but he did. But I was quite confident. The last four preparations to play our opponents, I can see the players are back at it. It just needed a spur I suppose, by confirming it with results.
“We work very hard in any working life, if you work hard in your day you want reward in it, because it rubber stamps that good effort and sends you to a different place. Now, well, let’s go beyond where we are.”
But did the win bring any feelings of relief following what had been a tough run of results?
“I’m happy winning, happier in my life, happier because that’s what it is when you are a winner and want to win,” he said. “But the players are too. And then it opens debates, different conversations, who should and shouldn’t play, this that and the other, but we’ve got to pick a team to go against an opponent.
“What I found difficult is leading many of those games, bar the last couple, because you’re in that strong position but not getting what you want in the end. I’ve had to address certain things, look at a few things and come out the other side.
“I’m very pleased for the players and the supporters. First and foremost we had to do our jobs and we put a Bradford team who have been in good form under a bit of pressure. I think they came here and fancied it, but it would have taken a very good team to keep Carlisle out with the way we played, because we were excellent.”
“We wanted the result, but I’ve never been as anxious as others may have been because I know that results could have been different within that run,” he added. “They would have been different anyway had we not been through what we went through, because the lads would have been fitter and sharper.
“That’s gone now, and we’re looking forward. I think it’s fair to say the players have felt a bit sorry for themselves and that’s not something I’ve ever done as a person. I don’t stomach that.
“They’ll have read more on the internet than I do, and they’ll see criticisms that will have hurt them, but they have to respond to all of that. I spoke to them and I told them it was time to show everyone that they’re good players again.
“I wanted the button turned back on and the Carlisle machine going again. We’ve been letting people take what should have been our points. That’s what hasn’t been good enough.
“I’m disappointed it’s taken this amount of time to get the type of result we’ve felt we deserved. I am understanding of why we’ve been through it, but it’s gone. We now have to repeat this level of performance and hope that the points keep coming.
“We’re capable of beating any team in this division, at any time, but we have to perform to do it.”
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