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DOF: It's not something we can rush

David Holdsworth on the managerial appointment process

14 October 2021

It stands to reason that the departure of any manager or head coach triggers the process of appointing a replacement, and with the season almost a quarter done it also stands to reason that the Blues will need to find the balance between getting the task completed and carrying out the necessary checks having found themselves in that position at the beginning of the week.

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Director of football David Holdsworth spoke to the press on Thursday morning about the next steps, with the process of accepting applications already well under way.

“Finding that balance between not rushing into something and getting the person we need isn’t easy, it really isn’t,” he said. “If we had a magic wand we’d find the right person and get in the play-offs and promoted. The balance is difficult.

“You look for the opportunities arising, as soon as I put my phone back on I’m sure there will be more people coming out of the woodwork that maybe want this opportunity.

“We don’t want to wait too long. Right now Gavin’s in charge, we have to look at Saturday and Tuesday coming up and reflect on that afterwards, I would say.”

“But I agree, we really can’t rush into something. This is an important time, we’ve got 14 games before the window opens, so it would give any prospective manager coming in the opportunity to look at this squad, then try and lift the spirits, because whilst Chris is down, the staff and support have been down, so the players need a lift as well.

“There are a lot of young players in the dressing room, they’ll need encouragement, belief and hopefully take to the field a strategy going forward, to supply the system and the way we play.

“Most important, it’s about three points. We can’t rush into something, we must have a strategy, I’m a big believer in that, the person who comes in must know our players, and come in and enjoy it.”

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As for the type of person who may be on the radar, he added: “It’s imperative that the person that comes through the door has the ability to lift this group, and must know the group.

“When you take applications for the role of head coach here, I’d like to think anybody that came through the door isn’t going to waste my time and not know our players. It’s imperative we find that person that can work with a very talented group that just need a redirection and a lift.

“I feel again, I haven’t had the opportunity to speak to the board, they asked me to find the applications and look out for opportunities that may arise, but timing is everything. In the summer it’s completely different to now.

“This wasn’t something we foresaw, we really didn’t want to make a change, having a Plan B, yeah you can have one, but we’ve got to materialise something that will take the club forward, give us all a lift and something we can believe in that can take this team forward, and give the supporters the belief we know what we’re doing going forward. 

“I think we’ve got to be transparent. Whether someone’s played here or not, they’ll know about our supporters and how passionate they are, and that’s a good thing. They’ll know it comes with the other part if it doesn’t go successfully.

“Supporters must believe and have the trust we can find the right type of person. The board will have their ideas, everybody’s got an idea at the moment, everybody’s texting me with this or that person, but we don’t need to rush.

“Gavin Skelton’s been here, knows the team, the players this week have worked very hard and intelligently, they have put some good sessions on to try and lift that spirit. And then we’ll evaluate that.

“I don’t want to dismiss Gavin Skelton, I think Gavin and I have had some good conversations this week. The most important thing is the football club. We’ve got to try and lift it and on Saturday come 3pm we hope the players are ready and geared up.

“I know Gavin and Eric have worked very hard on strategy this week in training. Whoever the board and I look at, we must make sure they’re capable and, going forward, we don’t want to be in this situation again in six months.”

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“I think continuity’s very good,” he confirmed. “Gavin’s in charge Saturday and we’ll go from there. I can’t predict the next three or four games. I will say Gavin’s done everything right this week.

“He’s had a knock this week because he was part of the Chris Beech team, and I think Chris and Gavin really grew as a pair. Gavin’s been at this club a long time and it was me that supported him to be here when he had the opportunity to leave. Gavin knows my thoughts on loyalty and respect, and he’s been given that this week.”

Any managerial vacancy always brings a number of applicants, from the full range of experience levels, be that first-time coaches or those who have coached in divisions above and below for a number of years.

“I’ve had so many people get in touch, and they’re all credible,” he told us. “I must respect the people who’ve applied.

“I’ve been very popular, I’ve met people I don’t even know, asking how are you, long time no speak, and that’s fine. I respect everybody that’s applied, and we must do that. It will be whittled down.

“There’s been some very good names who have managed higher, managed lower, ex-players, everything’s documented, and we’ll evaluate it as soon as possible.

“The hard thing for me is trying to be in six places at once and we have a game in Wales on Tuesday. We want to concentrate on supporting the team this weekend, hopefully get three points, but there are some very creditable applications.”

“If the person we feel is right is already in a job, that’s something we can look at,” he continued. “I think I’ve got four people whose agents - four people I would have to pay for. I’m not averse to that at all.


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“If it’s the right thing for us we must do it. We have to evaluate them all and sit down. I’m going to give it to tomorrow, over the weekend, to look at and try to bring that smaller element further forward, and the board and I will evaluate those.

“It’s very difficult getting everybody together at the moment due to certain things. You’ve got to have a strategy and plan. I hope everybody can conclude that sooner rather than later, whether it be Gavin Skelton, and if Gavin wins the next two games then certainly he’s doing himself no harm. 

“We have three games between now and a week on Saturday so I completely get the nine points thing, they’re important, but it’s not to say we can’t win them.

“We have to think Gavin might win those next three games, and try and be positive. But it does make it virtually impossible to meet as many people as I’d like to. Some of the applicants who I would intend to see are in the south.

“There’s a lot of travelling for me, I had some good meetings yesterday, and we want to do the right thing. If our supporters felt we were making a knee-jerk reaction it would be stupid and wouldn’t be right, they’ve got to have our trust and belief we are evaluating all of the opportunities that are coming forward.

“Going back to paying for somebody, if someone’s got a clause in their contract, their agents want to see them going forward, we’ll evaluate all of those.”

But what’s the next step after the whittling process has been completed.

“Nigel Clibbens and I had a good meeting this week, we’ll evaluate all of them,” he said. “We do respect all of them and the process must be that you eliminate some people and put other people forward.

“You can’t have a massive list and then go again, it’s nonsensical and a waste of time. We’ll break it down into the people we feel are relevant and they will get an opportunity to be interviewed by the board and the chairman. 

“It then comes down to a board vote, that’s the way it’s been operated before, yes. I actually do have someone in mind but I’m not on the board, I am not a board member.

“The board will be given a shortlist of people to consider, and my influence will be, the fact that person’s managed at a higher level, has a really good way of motivating, making players believe, and can take this club forward. The location of that person might not be right.

“There’s a lot of things to consider. It’s not just a flippant remark. Carlisle’s not around the corner, you’ve got to be committed to the area, to wearing the shirt with pride as a player, and as a manager I want someone to be in the area.

“We did with Steven Pressley and John Sheridan, and Chris really tried to do as much as he could to be part of the community, with the players as well. 

“As I say, immediately we have Gavin in control. As for a new manager working with the current staff, that conversation hasn’t taken place, and it certainly won’t until we know what the shortlist may be.

“That’s a decision that will be done very privately. Gavin’s been asked to take the helm for now, and Gavin will be successful wherever he goes because he’s a very honest young man and I like Gavin a lot. But it won’t just be my decision and it will be done privately.”

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