MANAGER: I want it to be positive

A groundswell of positivity follows the Blues into United’s home game against Rochdale tonight, with a larger than usual Tuesday night expected to greet the return of Paul Simpson to the dugout.

The weekend victory was witnessed by 700 Blue Army members, something that was appreciated by every member of the match day squad, staff and players alike.

“To see them numbers travelling down to London - and I know we have a strong London Branch, but we’ll have had a lot of people coming from Cumbria to watch us,” manager Paul Simpson said.

“That’s brilliant, it lifts everybody when you see it, and obviously to score early … one of the visions that’s sticking in my mind from the weekend is all of the players celebrating that goal in front of the fans.

“We planned it that way, it was set up to do it in front of the fans but, no, we want more of that. We want more of that over the coming weeks, and more positive results where we see them all screaming, shouting and smiling at the end.

“To tell you truth, I haven’t asked the players if it influenced them. I don’t know if it did come from that, but everybody likes positivity.

“The players chose to be positive in the way they played, maybe the way we set them up affected that, but the supporters also gave them something to be positive about.

“When you get that support and noise, like we did on Saturday, and you can feel them encouraging you, it has to give you a lift and help. That’s what we want here tonight.

“I think we’ve got seven home games, and if we can have a magnificent atmosphere in those seven games and try and take maximum points, that will go a hell of a long way to getting us to where we want to be.”

A tough season has meant that not much in the way of smiling has been evident at Brunton Park, with fans concerned about the future of their club.

“We’ve just got to do all we can,” he commented. “It’s probably wrong of me to ask fans to stay positive throughout, because if things aren’t going well then that isn’t what human nature is.

“I want it to be positive, but I want us to influence that and make sure that the fans can stay positive. I’m sure there will be some fingernails chewed over the next 14 games, I totally get that.

“I’m sure there will be some tantrums thrown if we misplace passes, or whatever it may be, but if we can give the fans enough to make sure they stay with us for as long as possible then we’ve got a chance.

“If they give us a chance to help them create that positive atmosphere it gives the players a chance to respond to it, and it gives everybody a lift.

“If the stadium is like that, not only does it help us but it makes it difficult for the opposition. That’s all we can hope for.

“It’s not me pleading to them because I know all fans want to see good football, hard work and wins. If we do that then I don’t need to make appeals, I know what these fans will do if those things are all right.”

Fantastic to see for everybody has been the level of positivity in the response, which has taken hold right across the fan base.

“On Wednesday and Thursday my boys were telling me bits that were going on, but I’ve actually just become their dad again over the next few days, so it’s not really about social media,” he insisted.

“They just send me stupid jokes and stuff again now and tell me what they’re up to. It’s brilliant because everybody in the world, whatever you do, whatever your line of profession is, we all like a pat on the back and to be told that we’re welcome and doing well.

“I just hope we have 14 more days of patting each other on the back and doing well, but I’m also not deluded. I’m quite sure there will be some down days as well. Chances are they’ll be the good days not to be on social media.”

And whatever the reason, those of us who have frequented the home of the Cumbrians have seen first-hand the benefit of a rocking and vibrant stadium.

“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s a big thing for everybody. I want us all to be together, I want the whole club to be together.

“If we can get a bit of unity - there obviously hasn’t been - if we can get everyone singing off the same hymn sheet, and pulling in the right direction, then it’s got to benefit us.

“It won’t guarantee results, but it’s got to make it a better feeling. I want to try and get the players to go out and play with real belief, intensity and determination so that the supporters respond to it. That’s what they want to see as well.

“And if we do win games we know we can harness it. That’s what will keep momentum and belief, and the positive feeling.

“What we’ve got now really is brilliant. But all I want is for it to carry on, the players to be able to play. It isn’t about managers, a coach or anything like that. It’s about players having the right environment to be able to go and play comfortably and enjoy their football.

“I heard a comment from one of the players on Saturday saying, ‘It’s nice, this isn’t it when you win.’ Some of them haven’t experienced winning first team games of football.

“I think if I’m going to be honest, when I was a player I took it for granted how important it was to win games. Probably early on in my management and coaching career I took it for granted how important it was.

“As time’s gone on, I’ve realised that it isn’t easy to win a game of football. People do think it is, but it isn’t. When you get three points, you have to enjoy it, because it’s soon onto the next one.” 

There’s focus, and then there’s focus, and then there’s a focus on the important matter of picking up more points which makes the return to the technical area where he enjoyed so much success just over 16 years ago almost a side issue for a manager who has his eyes completely on the job at hand.

“It’s going to be brilliant, absolutely brilliant, but let’s make sure they’re still cheering us when we’re walking off at the end,” he told us. “I keep being told that we’re getting more and more people, and I thought Saturday was absolutely magnificent, so let’s make sure at 7.45pm we’ve got them all in and ready to cheer.

“The big thing is to get yourself your ticket and get organised if you’re coming to the game. We want them here early so they’re ready and in the ground when the players come out of the tunnel.

“It’s then up to the players to go and do what they can do to make sure the noise levels stay and increase as we go through the 90 minutes.

“I won’t be thinking about anything too sentimental like. I’ll be looking at whether it’s our kick-off and how we’re going to put them under pressure. If it isn’t then I’ll be thinking about how we’re going to win the ball back.

“It would be lovely to go and score early like we did on Saturday and see the players celebrating in front of fans. Those sorts of things are what I’ll be concentrating on.

“I really hope there’s so much happening on that pitch that nobody bothers about me and I can just get on with it. I’m hoping it’s not raining, and I don’t get wet, but in typical Carlisle fashion there’s every chance it will be. I’ll have to get myself wrapped up.

“I’m just looking forward to the game, to the players going and performing again. Hopefully having a little bit more control of the game than we did on Saturday and trying to find some weaknesses in Rochdale’s team.

“It’s not really about me. It will be nice, lovely, I’m not saying anything other than that, but it’s not really about me.”

One of the big things on the night will be the opportunity to rekindle his relationship with the Paddock, and area of the ground that is always willing to share thoughts and advice.

“I’m hoping my hair grows overnight so it covers my ears and I don’t have to listen,” he joked. “It’s football isn’t it, everywhere in the country, just with a different accent.

“I’ll just have to take whatever comes tomorrow night. The annoying thing is some of them are probably my family members, or old school mates, so I just have to get used to it.”

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