United’s final home game of the season is against Stevenage on Saturday afternoon and, with both sides having recently secured their safety, manager Paul Simpson is expecting another difficult game against opponents who have enjoyed a decent run of form.
“This will be a tough test,” he said. “I’ve watched their last three games so I know it will be tough.
“Steve Evans always gets his teams fired up and they’ve had a really good run of results. They lost on Tuesday against Mansfield, which was maybe expected, but with the run they’ve been on it was a bit of an odd one because they’ve been doing so well.
“It’s the last opportunity of the season for us to go out and do something to please our home supporters.
“I hope we get a good turnout and I hope at the end of the game the fans are still happy with us.
“I hope when the players bring their families onto the pitch to walk round and applaud the fans and thank them for their support that they’ve watched a worthwhile match beforehand.”
Always a danger is that distractions get in the way, with the big news from Wednesday night grabbing the off-pitch headlines in the run-up to match day.
“I think you compartmentalise things naturally in this business and everything just rolls on and into one,” he commented. “I won’t it difficult to focus and really, the players have just got to concern themselves with themselves.
“They have to make sure they are the best version of themselves if they’re selected against Stevenage, and the same against Bradford.
“Once Bradford is finished they’ll start thinking about their holidays and pre-season, that’s just the life we’re in and that’s the way it goes.
“It’s about pride, having pride as a professional footballer. That’s solely what it’s about. It’s something that’s been drummed into me.
“Anybody who saw me play knows I wasn’t an aggressive footballer by any stretch. I didn’t show I cared because I smashed into tackles, that was far from my game.
“I had a bravery to want to get on the football and create and score, and that’s what I want the players to do.
“Whatever your bag is, whatever you hang your hat on, you have to bring it to the party on Saturday and give our supporters something to shout about.”
And with another big crowd expected it’s another opportunity for the players to put on a show for supporters who have responded so positively to their efforts over the last 13 games.
“Somebody mentioned to me gates have increased by about 500 since I came in, which is brilliant,” he said. “Now we need to keep them and get even more.
“I remember some of the atmosphere’s we had when I was first here, absolutely brilliant, and we’ve had it here as well in Brunton Park since I’ve come back. Let’s just keep it.
“I sound like I’m pleading for time here, which I’m not, I fully understand the pitfalls of football management. But give us a chance, come back and give us your support, back us and see if we can all make it.
“Clubs at this level in particular are not about a chairman and two directors and a supporters’ trust creating it. We have to generate funds.
“We don’t have a bottomless pit of money coming from Sky like the Premier League clubs do. We can only spend what we bring in.
“The more people we can bring in, the more support and sponsorship we can get, that has got to make us better. That’s what we’ve got to try and drive to do.
“We all want Carlisle to be a more vibrant and better place to be. Let’s try and do it together.”
The players are due to come back out of the dressing room after full-time on Saturday – as long as supporters stay off the pitch – to show their appreciation for the backing they’ve been given through what has been a very difficult year.
“The players are going to bring their children along, and their families are talking about coming on the pitch with them,” he tod us.
“Hopefully the fans will stay off the pitch so that can happen.
“But, if we want to do that, I’ve told them that we have to do something that keeps the supporters in the stadium after the final whistle.
“I’ve been involved in these when they don’t put on a performance and the supporters just leave and go home, and rightly so.
“We want to thank the fans. It’s not a case of the fans thanking players - we have to thank the fans. I really hope we get a good turnout.
“I hope they come and show the players that they can be involved in at this club. This is the start of the journey, I’d really like the supporters, local businesses, everybody to join us at the start of this journey and let’s see where it takes us.”