United took their unbeaten league run to five on Tuesday night with another clean sheet thrown into the mix – an eighth shut-out from Keith Millen’s sixteen games in charge.
The improvement seen in all areas of the pitch has provided a strong platform, with the Carlisle boss once again pointing towards the final ingredient that will turn close calls into three points on a more regular basis.
“We’re not far away,” he said. “We’ve spoken about that in the dressing room. We are improving, and that’s why I think we’re starting to be a bit more consistent in what we’re doing.
“The level of performance has been there for quite a while now, and we do have to be pleased about that. I wanted to remind the players that if they keep doing that, and we keep improving and keep going, there are plenty of wins around the corner.
“We’ll keep working with them and keep trying to give them solutions. Getting that goal, that’s something we’ve known about from day one.
“That’s what we’re trying to improve with the players that are here, and that’s why we’re looking in the transfer market for players who will help us to get better. We’ll see how that develops over the next couple of weeks.
“This group of players is working really hard and they’re really disappointed that they haven’t gone on to win that game. I told them afterwards that there are a lot of things they’re doing well, and they mustn’t forget that.
“Sometimes when you’re disappointed that you haven’t won you can lose sight of the good things you do. It’s my job to remind them that there’s plenty to be pleased with.”
And having seen the team work a number of good positions, he told us: “I think at times, because of the types of forwards and wide men we have, they all want to run with it.
“They’re good at it, but there’s a time and a place. You can’t always run with it. Sometimes you’ve just got to try and secure it, find another pass and build your attack a bit more. That’s what I’m trying to get us better at doing.
“You can’t just rely on people with pace, and we have got pace, which is great, but we’re not just about runners. We need to build and be a little bit more clever and patient in possession.
“As always, the final ball, are we getting enough players in dangerous areas, which I’ll look at again. But the trouble is, if you don’t build your attacks up it’s very difficult to get a lot of bodies in the box because they’re trying to play catch up.
“It’s that balance between lots of runners and building up and trying to be a bit more creative.”
With a fortnight of the transfer window left to go, that could mean that further additions are made to bolster the forward the line.
“You don’t want all the same type of player, definitely,” he agreed. “We are looking at different types, different areas.
“I feel now that we can try and be really picky on getting maybe one or two key signings. As we are, we’re good, but can we find that one little signing that it’s like wow, where did that come from, whether it’s a forward, wide man, whatever.
“The type of signing that maybe just gives us that extra little spark we might need. If you look at our bench you see we’ve got a strong squad in numbers, and that’s probably why the market is quite difficult.
“I don’t want to bring in just a player, I want people who are going to make a difference. That limits the targets a little bit, but I think over the next couple of weeks you’ll probably see a lot of movement where teams will bring in players and others will come out.
“There’s always a knock-on effect in the last two weeks, so we’ll see. I’m happier with the overall picture of where we are now, and that gives me confidence.”
“Nothing is imminent just yet,” he continued. “We’ve had a few no’s, which we expect, so then you have to go down your list and the profiling of the players and the types you want.
“Things can change very quickly, so we’ve got to make sure we’re on the ball, we’re ready, and if the right person comes up we’ll try and do something.
“At the moment there are a lot of conversations and still a lot of names being thrown about. I do think in the last two weeks of the window you’ll probably see a lot more movement, players coming in, players going out.
“We don’t need much, I’m not desperate, I’d love to bring in one, maybe two, but they need to really come in and help to improve us.
“It’s a smaller market, if you like, because the players we’ve got here are doing a good job. I’m hopeful that we might be able to do a bit more business and the club are backing me in that respect. But I won’t do it just for the sake of it.”
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