With two games left to go manager Paul Simpson has once again laid down the challenge to the players to make sure they see the season out with a bang, with two good performances, rather than with the whimper of not having carried the job through.
“It doesn’t matter whether you love Carlisle United or if you’re from Carlisle,” he said. “As a professional footballer you have to do the simple things and the basic things well, it’s your job.
“We can go right through the team from Saturday and say that none of them did that. The top and bottom is that I can’t think of anything that we did well, and I really don’t think we could have got any worse than we were in that first half.
“But we need these players to do it for us in these last two games. I got a bit optimistic last Monday when I saw what they could do, but there’s such an inconsistency there in the work ethic and in the level of performance.
“It doesn’t matter where you go, if you perform like that you’ll lose. It could have been an even heavier defeat, an even more embarrassing result, and that would have gone alongside an embarrassing performance.
“Look, Monday didn’t seduce me enough to think that it doesn’t need an overhaul, but maybe I was starting to wonder whether some of the players who I was thinking may need to go – maybe I was starting to think well, maybe not.
“But you just can’t perform like this, it isn’t acceptable at any level of football. As a group of staff we were talking at half time and we’re taking blame for things, and really I’m not sure we can be blamed for not winning first headers or for pulling out of tackles.
“We can’t be blamed for not tracking runners or for blocking tackles, or for not doing any of the simple things. No doubt we will get the blame as a group of staff, but I think the players need to reflect on what they’ve done and work out if they’ve given their lot today.”
“In the first 12 games we’ve had performances against some top sides, but I think the really big ones were the win at Orient, the win at Oldham,” he continued.
“I don’t think we realised how important that was, and the win at Barrow, they were huge wins for us.
“We’ve come up against a side who, I didn’t actually say it to the players, but I wanted to make sure we won so we stayed above Harrogate.
“That’s now not the case, because of the goal difference, it’s the whole level of performance. I wanted a level of consistency after the Monday game and unfortunately we’ve gone from one end of the spectrum to the other.
“It’s a culture that needs to be changed. It’s certainly got to be improved without a doubt. We shouldn’t be competing at the wrong end of the table, and I accept we’re not going to play well every game.
“I totally get that, but you can’t go from one extreme to the other like we have on a few occasions. We’ve shown we’re capable of doing it, but at Harrogate we’ve gone way off the other side of the scale.
“It’s something we’ve got to get right and I’m not saying every single player who’s out of contract will be released, but we’ve certainly got to do something to tr and change the whole culture inside a football club, the whole attitude.
“You’ve got to have a winning mentality and desire to consistently go to the edge of your levels of performance. Unfortunately too many times this season we obviously haven’t.”
“Oldham have gone, and that could so easily have been us,” he concluded. “Thankfully it’s not. We now have to go and be professional, we have to do both games right.
“That’s the only thing on my mind now. We’ll look at why this happened, we’ll see how they are in the week. There can’t be wholesale changes for the next two games because this is the group that we’ve got.
“I think I’m probably right in saying everybody’s had an opportunity, so there’s nobody sitting in the wings who can be thinking well I haven’t played. We’ve got to get the right team together to go out next week at home to go and perform.
“And like I say, I’m fully aware of how well supported we are as a club. That’s horrible for me as the manager to have to walk and be thanking them for their support when the players have just not gone and performed for them.
“This is what you have to do as a player - you have to get a level of consistency. If you want to play as a professional footballer in front of crowds, you’ve got to be prepared to do some simple stuff right.
“The supporters have been magnificent from day one and we have to give them something to shout about. That’s why I don’t want us to finish with a whimper.”