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INTERVIEW: I'd like to think I can take weight off his shoulders

Greg Abbott on taking up his new role

18 May 2022

United’s new head of recruitment Greg Abbott quite literally hit the ground running last Monday with his arrival at the club quickly followed by a series of meetings centred around putting a strategy in place as well as, of course, starting with the important task of pulling together a list of summer targets and potential acquisitions.

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The 58-year-old is no stranger to Brunton Park, have worked with the club as assistant manager, caretaker manager and first-team manager across a seven-year spell between 2006 and 2013.

His time in charge brought two Wembley finals, against Southampton and Brentford in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and some hard-fought League One campaigns, with some notable scalps along the way.

Now back as part of Simpson’s backroom staff, he found it hard to hide his delight at being involved with the club once again.

“It does feel strange, yes, but exciting is more the word I’d rather use,” he said. “It’s something that after speaking to the manager I had no hesitation in saying yes to.

“It’s good for me to come and try to help to maintain the progress the club has seen since Paul came back.

“Getting the call off him was fantastic, it’s always nice to be wanted, and after speaking to Paul that first time he told me to take a bit of time to think about it.

“What he doesn’t realise is that 30 seconds after putting the phone down I’d made my mind up. That’s down to the way Paul is, the way he speaks to people and the way he manages and makes people feel.

“The upturn in performances since he’s been here has been fantastic, and after we talked the hairs were standing up on the back of my neck because I knew I wanted to have a go for this guy.

“I actually wanted to play for him ... that won’t happen, everyone can certainly be thankful about that!”

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And he confirmed that as the conversation continued he was left with little doubt that it was something he genuinely wanted to be part of, with clear thinking on recruitment the main driving factor.

“He made me feel that there was a big part to play in terms of helping him, and in representing the club at games and making sure we have a presence where it matters,” he explained.

“He wants us to be looking at and identifying players, and putting players in front of him that the whole of the staff can talk about together.

“That means decisions will be based on what four or five people say rather than it being just one person’s recommendation, or purely by going from Wyscout or on video clips.

“It’s a case of getting good, solid information to make sure we’re getting the right players into the club.”

And having worked with the club so closely for so long, there’s a distinct advantage when it comes to knowing what the boundaries are across all areas of the business.

“I know the parameters we’re working within and I know the good reasons why people want to come here, and reasons why some might not want to come,” he told us.

“We all know about the long journeys, the geographics, but Carlisle isn’t going to move. It’s always going to be here, so what we have to do is make sure that players who come here know what that means.

“They need to know they’re going to have to travel and commit to staying over in the club houses, or in hotels, and if they aren’t prepared to do that then we can’t make that signing, it’s as simple as that.

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“Everybody who is here has got to be in a good place within themselves, and if we get that we’ll get better performances in training and on the pitch.

“I’ve got a bit of an advantage because, looking back, I know how difficult it was at times to persuade players to come.

“That’s fine, I’ll tell them the problems or challenges they’ll face, because it’s important they know that, and if they say they can accept them and deal with them we can then put them in front of the manager, tell him that the player wants to come, and he can get on with it.

“Players who do come now are coming to play in front of a re-energised crowd, a club that has new energy, and that’s superb for us all. We have to make sure we make the right signings and that it’s the right types of people to complement that.”

Another important part of the job is to help to lighten the load on the manager’s office with, eventually, a constant bank of current and relevant information to draw on as and when required.

“I’d like to think I can take as much weight off his shoulders as possible,” he commented. “Having been in his position, I know how all-consuming that role can be.

“You do have ups and downs and sometimes, when you’re down you maybe need somebody that can give you a comforting arm.

“It’s not that he would want that, but it might just come down to having a coffee and talking about something totally different other than football.

“Letting him know that everybody is behind him and supporting him allows him to get on with his job.

“Then, of course, there’s the actual job to do. Dealing with agents, contracts and players, and that sort of stuff, he now doesn’t need to do that.

“He needs to know what’s going on, of course he does, but if he says to me that he wants this player or this position, we identify it together and I go off to try to make the necessary contacts and do the negotiations.

“The next time he sees the player, having spoken to him and confirmed he’s right, is when he has his medical and he’s telling you guys in the media he can’t wait to work with him.

“Doing those bits will allow Paul to get on with what he’s really good at. He comes across as a really structured and organised fella and this is all part of that.”

We’ll have the second part of our interview with Gregg Abbott on the official website tomorrow.

Click HERE to watch an interview with Greg Abbott on iFollow United now.

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.


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