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Club News

MANAGER: A really enjoyable year

Paul Simpson on one year with the Blues

24 February 2023

Club News

MANAGER: A really enjoyable year

Paul Simpson on one year with the Blues

24 February 2023

Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the appointment of Paul Simpson, and what a 12-months it’s been with him having taken over when the club was second bottom in League Two, with 15 games of that season left to go.

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Hit the fast-forward button and 53 games later, with a win ratio of close to 50%, the Blues are looking up the way, with a promotion hunt on their hands as we get into the final third of the current campaign.

When asked about his first year of his second spell with his hometown club, he said: “Sometimes it feels like ten years, other times it’s flown by.

“There’s been a hell of a lot that’s happened, so many good things as well, and I suppose the overriding feeling is that I’m loving it and I’ve enjoyed it.

“It’s been a really good 12-months, and if we can have the next 12-months just like it at the same sort of level there’s maybe a chance that we might be here for a third year, who knows.”

As with any turnaround of fortunes of this nature, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into changing not just the culture, but the direction of travel.

“I don’t think you can do anything in life without it being hard work unless you’re really, really fortunate and you’re born into money and you don’t have to work at all,” he told us. “Nothing comes easy, everything takes a bit of work.

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“There are harder ways to earn a living than being a football manager, that’s for sure. It’s a really good place to be, and I think the response I’ve had from the players, that’s the first part of it, has been really good.

“Because of what the players have done we’ve had a good response from the supporters, and there’s a good feeling about the place. Everything just snowballs and starts to come together if the results are going your way, and the big challenge is actually staying up there.

“I always remember when I was doing psychology and I read a book about staying at the top, by Rick Charlesworth, and he talked about the fact that it’s hard to stay up there, but you have to do what you can to maintain it.

“We’ve worked from a position of being second bottom to third in the table, so we aren’t right at the top, but we’ve achieved something by turning that around.

“The hardest thing is staying there, and we have to do everything we can to keep it this way for us. It won’t be easy because we’ve got loads of people trying to hunt us down, some good football clubs as well, and we now have to keep ourselves in front of everybody if we possibly can.”

And on the 50% win rate, he said: “That’s credit to the players. I can set them up, pick the team, take the training, all of that, and try to create an environment where they feel comfortable.

“They’re still the ones who have to go out and do it, so credit to them for that. Without them the chances are I wouldn’t be sat here now.

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“We all see how many managers lose their jobs, it’s a ruthless business this, so thank you to the players for making it a good 12-months. Long may it continue.”

Off-the-field he admitted that there is still work to be done.

“There’s probably not a lot I can say about that side of it because nothing has really changed,” he commented. “There isn’t really anything that’s happened.

“The things that I can see happening on a weekly basis, or on a fortnightly basis, are all positive. That’s the way the shop is going, hospitality, sponsorship, commercial, it’s all really busy.

“That comes because we’ve got good people in place who are doing their jobs well, and we’ve also got a successful team out on the grass.

“Those things are all being taken care of on the back of us winning games of football, but there are other things in terms of the structure and infrastructure that we still need to improve.

“Unfortunately a lot of it is dictated by money, you have to have funds to do what you want to do. Everybody has heard me whinge on about training facilities, but the simple fact is that you have to have money to do it all.

“We’re trying to test the water to see where we could do it, whether there’s a possibility, or if anyone can come and help us with funding or grants, anything. As well as doing the football management side of things, we’re all working to try and make things better.

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“If you have people in place who have a good work ethic and who have the club at heart, you’ve got a real good chance of things going well. We’ll keep banging the drum and talking about the things we want to improve until we see some progress.”

Having mentioned the need for funding, and the constant shadow of the need for investment, he told us: “I keep out of all of that, to be honest. I have regular conversations with John Nixon, and I speak to Nigel, but I try not to get too screwed up about it, because I’ve got enough to think about without concerning myself about that.

“If I’m asked for an opinion, or input, or help to do something, I would jump at the chance if it’s going to make the football club better. To date I haven’t been asked to do anything on that, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.

“My whole idea and philosophy on it is that if the team are doing well, it’s going to encourage people to come down here and watch us. That’s all I can affect at this stage.

“I have regular contact with the board, they do keep me up to speed with it, but unfortunately there’s just not a lot to say about it at the moment.”

The next step in looking after what he can control is the trip to Crawley at the weekend.

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“Our focus has to be on the games to come,” he insisted. “You do all of the early stages to get yourself into a good position to go and finish the job off.

“I have said it before, but we’re in a better position than I expected us to be at this point. I’m delighted that we’re in this position, and the challenge is to keep it going.

“We have some big games coming up, the next one being on Saturday against a Crawley side who, I think it’s fair to say, are in a little bit of a false position because of the players they have and the games in hand they have on teams around them.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game and we’ve got to be right for it. We’re third in the table for a reason, and we have to make sure come the end of the game at Crawley that we’re still third come full time.”

But overall is the managerial role one he feels completely comfortable with?

“You just have to look at me and see the bags under my eyes and the grey hairs I’ve got for the answer to that,” he joked.

“When I watch the match analysis I notice my bald patch getting bigger on the top of my head, so I don’t think the job is doing me much good, but I am really enjoying it.

“I’m loving my life personally being back in Carlisle, and professionally it’s really good as well. If we can have another 12 months like the last 12 months then I should have a decent chance of staying for my third year.”


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