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MANAGER: It's been a brilliant adventure

Paul Simpson on where this achievement ranks for him

1 June 2023

Club News

MANAGER: It's been a brilliant adventure

Paul Simpson on where this achievement ranks for him

1 June 2023

Gaffer Paul Simpson had been pretty insistent during the build-up to the play-off final that a successful outcome would sit comfortably alongside the other fantastic highs he’s had in his career, with good moments in a tough professional environment to be savoured whenever they come along.

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But we perhaps managed to tap a crack into that particular piece of armour when we asked the question, with the dust settling and adrenalin levels subsiding a few days after the victory and promotion had been secured.

“I haven’t changed my point of view on where this ranks in my achievements because I loved all the other bits as well,” he commented. “I’ve got to say, the actual feeling of the day and the emotion of it was a better feeling than I had in South Korea with the World Cup group.

“I can’t rank them all as to what is the most important because that World Cup was such a massive thing for the Football Association and everybody else. In terms of what this has done for Carlisle, this is enormous for the city, the supporters and the football club.

“I know in the last few seasons the directors haven’t had a very pleasant relationship with the supporters and you could tell there was a real disconnect, but this has been a brilliant season and a brilliant adventure for us all.

“We’ve made a couple of steps on the journey I talked about when I came back in February 2022. I asked everybody to come and join us, and we’ve made the first two steps by staying in the league, then getting out of it at the right end.

“Who knows what the next step of the journey is going to be, all I can say is I’m looking froward to it.”

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At that point when we sat down to talk to him, just two days after the final whistle had blown, he confirmed that things still hadn’t quite sunk in.

“I haven’t been able to savour it all yet,” he said. “I haven’t even watched the full game back yet to be honest. I watched the highlights on ITV, but I haven’t looked at everything else.

“I’ve come in this morning and spoke to the players as a group before their individual meetings where I talked them through my decisions. There’s a couple of them who have already gone away after postponing flights for holidays and things who I’ve had to speak to on the phone, which isn’t ideal.

“I think the reality of it all set in quite quickly because there was one I had to have a meeting with on Monday morning in the hotel down in London to let them know I wasn’t going to retain them.

“The euphoria that goes with winning at Wembley was quickly wiped away when you have to have tough conversations. I would imagine over the next few weeks that the full reality of it will set in.

“I know it’s been a brilliant achievement, I knew before the play-offs that we’d done well. I just asked them to go and make a good season into a brilliant season, and they certainly did that on Sunday.

“There were 15,000 fans who made the journey who also saw it, and a lot of people I’ve spoken to said it was a proper good day for them. We need to make sure we have lots more to come.”

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An amazing stat that accompanies his time as manager of this football club is that in the three full seasons he’s been in charge he’s achieved three promotions – one to League Two and two to League One.

“I’m glad you skipped out the relegation bit!” he joked. “It’s been brilliant. I don’t know why it fits but it’s been a brilliant season.

“I’ve loved every minute of it, but I want next season to be good as well. I’m a big believer that you just have to keep looking forward.

“We have to be right and make sure we put a group together to be ambitious. I’m not being pessimistic when I say the first thing is to stay in the league, I think that’s being ambitious that we’ve got aspirations to make sure we’re still a League One side.

“We have to keep building and trying to be better. We know it’s going to be a tough challenge, Forest Green romped the league then finished bottom after putting a bit of investment in, so we know it’s going to be tough.

“We have to keep hold of the players we want to keep, then try to bring in some better players to hopefully improve us as well.”

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