Strong second half performances have been a feature of United’s game over the past few weeks but, as ever, Carlisle boss Chris Beech confirmed that he wants more, with the message in training over the past seven days having have had a real focus on the need for consistency throughout the 90 minutes.
“The lads understand and we’re all on the same page because everybody wants the same outcomes,” he said. “Of course, the opposition wants the same things too, so you have to respect who you’re playing at the same time as understanding elements of why we haven’t quiet achieved what we wanted within that period we’re talking about.
“Ultimately you have to set standards and you have to make sure that when you get the chance to do your job, whether as a player for 95 minutes or five minutes, you’ve got to make sure you represent yourself and your team well.
“We’ve been working hard on the understanding of that and the players are in agreement of where we are and where we should be, and of where we can be. We’re really looking forward to playing Sutton and to seeing what we do there off the back of it.”
“I have reflection in terms of I understand why, and we’ve discussed that as a group of people,” he continued. “It’s not just me – I would imagine yourself, other people, and our players want to start games better and we have to look at doing that.
“But there’s no guarantees at all. We’ve just got to make sure we address things as we approach different challenges. Last season it wasn’t like this, possibly we didn’t finish games too clever, things change.
“We have to make sure if things aren’t going our way that we address it. I know the press spoke to Jordan Gibson after the game on Saturday and he explained it much better than I can from a player’s perspective.
“There isn’t too much we need to change, but we must improve. Sometimes making major changes often can help things, but it can often destabilise. We just know that working sharp, working hard, improving your individual game, looking at the way we do things as a team, as a unit within that team, are all vital compartments of playing well.
“You can see in large parts of the back end of pre-season and the early parts of the season, we’ve been very strong and you can argue, in the ifs, buts and maybes, that we should have slightly more points than we’ve got from the games we’ve played.
“Recently we haven’t been starting games as we’d like, but you’re not always going to get it on your terms. That’s when it’s important that we have that spirit and character within your group. We’ve shown that to come back in a couple of situations.
“I keep saying, there are no guarantees of anything. You can start a game like we did last week and a player slips, there’s a corner and a goal, and that’s all happened before you’ve even set up. That can derail how you feel and how you play from that moment onwards.
“There will be mistakes made in every game, so it’s about how you respond to that. The response last week was really good, it’s just a shame it took so long to get to that point, and in terms of management having to change the personnel to achieve that.
“As a squad, we understand that we want to start games better and that’s what we’re working towards.”
And with a group that is showing a determination to take the messages on board and implement them on the field of play, he commented: “I know I’ve said this before as well, but we have a group that wants to the best it can be.
“Even when we take players from different clubs, whether it be loan, or trialists, or new players permanently, you can see there’s a big difference in the way players do things once they’ve been with us for a while.
“You can relate that to the lads here now. Jack Armer today compared to the one that came in, Jon Mellish to the one I inherited … whoever it may be. You’ve got to keep working, improving as individuals, improving how we do things as a team, and that’s what we do.
“We’re a bit like my dad was on me, we’re pretty harsh on ourselves as a team and amongst staff to try and make things better. I think that’s a good place to be, it means we don’t rest on laurels.”
With both goals conceded last week coming from set pieces, he said: “We had massive plaudits last season on not having too many shots against us and things like that.
“That was the way we were playing, the energy we were playing at and the areas we were playing in. Those are things to look at – of course that will reduce the amount of set plays, corners against you.
“In Sutton we’re playing a team that had I think I read against Hartlepool, 55 entries from corners, wide free-kicks and long throw-ins. That’s a great example of one part of Sutton’s style that we’re obviously wary of.
“But if they do come, and it will happen, you’ve got to make sure your clearances are clean, and when corners come in, you’ve got to do your job.
“I’m not one for ripping something up and going to say a zonal situation, or all zonal, you see a lot of that in Premier League football. I think that’s because a lot of those teams are a little bit smaller now with their forward type players.
“Strikers have changed in the last 20 years in the top division, they’re a little bit more dynamic and move more, generally a bit smaller. A lot of teams are doing two banks of three and things like that.
“I prefer to give you responsibility, and if it’s you, you know what player you’re marking, there’s no argument to that, and you’ve got to make sure you do your job.”