It was noisy, as ever, often creative in the chant department, as ever, and certainly very much appreciated as 700 fans turned out at the Breyer Group Stadium to remind returning manager Paul Simpson just what it can be like to lead this team of ours.
“They were brilliant,” he said.” I was a bit concerned when we came out and it looked a bit empty. Suddenly, as the game went on, I looked over and it was absolutely heaving.
“I’ve seen it before with this club at Northwich Victoria, Leigh RMI, and all sorts of places, so we know they’re going to come out in numbers.
“We have to give them something to come out for, nobody wants to come and watch a team that’s struggling and losing, so we have to do something to bring them out.
“If we do put on performances and get results I’m quite sure they’ll come out and back the club.”
“It’s what we need,” he continued. “It’s the rallying cry I tried to ask for the other day. We have to give them something to shout about but we need them to come and support us.
“Whatever happens at the end of the next 14 games, hopefully the club’s in a better position because of the backing they given us.
“Nobody wants to have negativity around the football club, but I’m not saying that it isn’t deserved. When performances aren’t right and there’s off-field stuff, there’s going to be a reaction, but let’s try and have a bit of a positive feeling for the next ten weeks.
“That’s all I’m asking and let’s see where it takes us. Let’s enjoy it and back each other and stick together. There’s still some young lads and they still need backing.
“It’s hard to play in a negative atmosphere, and I accept why it’s been a negative atmosphere. I think it’s a choice whether to be positive or negative, you can choose to be positive, so we can all choose to be positive on Tuesday night.”
The celebrations when the full-time whistle blew are what this game is about, with players and supporters alike enjoying the result.
“It’s a feeling we all want to bottle and keep,” he agreed. “It’s what you’re in football for. I’ve said this many times, when I was a kid and dreaming about playing football it wasn’t on a park with one man and his dog watching, it was in front of crowds.
“To get 700 fans travelling down here for a League Two fixture is absolutely fantastic. There are teams in higher levels than Carlisle United that don’t get that sort of support.
“I know what the support can be like for Carlisle United. I’ve experienced it. I’ve got to try and get back to that even if it’s just for our seven home games and whatever else comes after it.”
Part of the reason for the roof being lifted off shortly after the game was a group huddle, which increased the feeling of anticipation in the stand.
“Sometimes when you get back in the dressing room it’s madness, and it’s quite tight, so you can’t do what you really want to,” the gaffer told us. “I decided that we would get together out there and I would say what I needed to say in front of the supporters, then everybody could show their appreciation for the fans together.
“There’s no rocket science to it. It was basically just let’s enjoy this feeling, let’s remember how this feels and make sure we do everything we can to do it again.
“I told them they fully deserved to get this ovation with everything they’d done. The way they’d fought and battled and scrapped, and had moments of really good play.
“I also made a point of saying it’s really important for the players to realise the job Gavin did, Colin on the kit, Greg the sports scientist, Jake, Ross the physio, it’s really important to remember the job they’ve done this week, basically to hold it all together.
“I’m also delighted I’ve got Paul Gerrard in. I’ve never met Paul before. I’ve come up against him, he’s been excellent for two days. He knows the game, he demands things, he’s got good standards and I think he’ll be a really good addition to help the keepers.
“When I came in I was told I could bring somebody in if I wanted to, if I needed another coach. I think it’s really important to bring in a goalkeeping coach, it’s a really specialised position.
“I don’t know about goalkeepers, they’re not my forte. I spoke to a friend of mine, Eric Steele, who does all of the FA coach education stuff, the assessing, I said to Steeley, listen, I need a goalkeeper coach, who do you recommend, because I don’t know anybody who’s out of work.
“He recommended Paul. He said he’s a good man, he knows the game, he’s a good coach, so I spoke to Gez and said listen, you’re in the same scenario as me, I can’t offer anything further than 15 games, will you come along and help us.
“He lives in the Manchester area. He said yeah, definitely, I’m in. I’d love to. He came up and he's done two sessions with us, but he’s been excellent, he’s took control of the defending set-plays, and I thought that was a big part of the game.
“Tobi heading that one off the line at the end, what a magnificent header that is. We’ve got to keep building on everything we did and make sure we do the good things again.”
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