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INTERVIEW: We have a profile for each position

Greg Abbott on targeting players and obstacles to securing the deal

23 November 2022

Club News

INTERVIEW: We have a profile for each position

Greg Abbott on targeting players and obstacles to securing the deal

23 November 2022

The relationship between the first-team manager and his staff is always crucial, particularly when it comes to mapping out a pathway for player recruitment that will give the club the best chance of success.

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Central to that role is Greg Abbott, who joined Paul Simpson’s backroom team in May and immediately set about the task of streamlining the identification process for the summer of work ahead.

Explaining how that process now works, he said: “We have a profile for each position. Paul wants a certain type, and he’ll tell me what he’s looking for to complement what we’ve already got, because we don’t want the same kinds of players.

“Between us we’re on the same page anyway because I know what’s required in each area of the pitch and what he wants from the players. We then try and get a list of six or seven players because we know some will go elsewhere or won’t be available.

“We probably end up chasing maybe two from that list, so we still have a choice. That’s what we’re doing at the moment, we’ve got some areas of the pitch where we might need to improve, not necessarily definite, but might.

“It’s my job to give him as many options in the positions he’s looking at as possible so that he can then make the best decision. I’ll offer an opinion, I’ll challenge him to maybe help him with his thought process, but he’s the one who has to have the final say.

“He’s the one who will be working with them all to try to get the team where we want it to be. The end game of everything we do is getting the right player. That’s why it’s right that every member of staff is constantly challenging each other so that we end up with the best outcome.

“We’re sitting down as a group of staff again next Thursday, and I’ll give him as much information as I can on background and character, but he’ll make the final call on anyone who comes into the building.”

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And he confirmed once again that it’s not just what the player can do on the pitch that matters.

“A good player for Carlisle isn’t just about ability,” he told us. “We’re looking at character and attitude as well because Paul wants the right types of people as much as the right types of player.

“We’ve got a good group of players here right now because of that ethos. They’re easy to work with and get on with. They’re also easy to communicate with and they take criticism in the right way, which is part of it.

“We’re not going to be perfect every week, so if they can do that and deal with it when they need to be told something isn’t great, we’ve got a fighting chance.

“That’s probably the difficult bit, trying to find the right types of people, but more often than not we’ve got enough contacts to make sure we make more good decisions than bad ones.

“We have profiles of players we want and that’s down to the manager. We obviously use contacts, agents, coaches we know, scouts, everybody who we know we can trust, and that all helps to identify players who might fit the bill.

“My job is to filter through all of that and find genuine targets who we think would come that I can put in front of the manager.”

We’ve heard a lot over the years about the obstacles that seem to pop up and prevent players from signing – be it finances or location – but he insisted that those factors can now be used in the filtering process.

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“Carlisle doesn’t move, it doesn’t get nearer to anywhere as the years go by,” he told us. “The key to getting players to move here is to get them up here.

“They always feel it’s miles away, but they fall in love with it as soon as they arrive. Add to that the good feeling around the place at the moment, and players see that.

“People start thinking they want a bit of it when they see the support the club gets. You travel for that kind of thing as a player.

“I’ve had a team today from the Premier League tell us that because of the way we’re going about things in the league we’ve become a club that they think will be a good place to send their young players, if we feel there’s anything we can do with them.

“Everything we’re doing now at the club is helping to attract people. Where Carlisle is can be an issue of you want it to be, but we probably don’t want you here anyway if that’s the case.

“We are trying to bring the squad closer in terms of travel distance to two hours, we’d love to have that. Maybe it will never happen, but if we work towards that we might start to find even more identity building with the fans and we can get greater success.

“I know what types he likes and I know the characters he wants so it would be silly of me to start feeding players in who don’t fit that.”

“The geographics of this club can go against you, as well as the financial side of things, there are other clubs in better parts of the country in terms of accessibility and who are paying more money,” he continued.

“That’s just a fact of life, it’s nothing to bleat about. With the trains and how the manager structures the week, the location is only a big problem if the players want it to be.

“Money wise, we’ll give players what we think is the right amount. We won’t make them rich, but we’ll give them a platform and make them better, which at the same time makes the club better.

“All of those things have got to be explained and put over in the right way, but it’s something I’m used to, so it’s come quite easily. As staff, we all know the club and between us we talk to people to persuade them to come.

“It’s probably fair to say that a lot of years and experience goes into that, which allows us to be able to do it quite quickly. Between all of the staff we tend to know who we can discard, because of cost, wage level or even temperament, and that again makes the process easier.

“We don’t waste time on players we have no real chance of getting. The effort goes into those we think have a real chance of coming to fruition.”

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