United face high-flying Stevenage on Saturday afternoon and it’s a game that provides another early-season test as the Blues hit the road for the first of two back-to-back away fixtures.
“It will be a really tough game,” manager Paul Simpson said. “I heard before that they’ve made the best start in League One for any newly promoted team after six games.
“They’ve had a great start, they’re a good group of players. Steve Evans probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he knows how to put a winning team out.
“This will be a really tough game but it’s one we’re looking forward to. We can go and spoil their party because they have an opportunity to go top of the league, and we’ve got to do everything we can to stop that happening.
“They’re a strong, robust side. They will bombard our box and get the ball forward. They’ve got experienced players who know how to get results, and we’ve got to learn really quickly to make sure we know how to get results as well.”
“They’re an effective team,” he continued. “The rule changes this season have probably kept the ball in play more than last season, but it’s clearly working for them.
“They’ve got some wins under their belt and I think they’re sat with 13 points, which is a great achievement for a newly promoted side. They’ll have had the same experience as we have where we’re seeing it’s a step up.
“They got themselves up before we did by doing it automatically so they were a little bit ahead of the game, so we know it’s going to be tough.
“I’ve heard Steve is trying to get their fans encouraged to come in, so hopefully it will be a good crowd and a good atmosphere, then we’ve got to do everything we can to try and spoil their party.”
And the opposition manager was one of the TV pundits who followed United’s successful play-off campaign, where he had plenty of complimentary things to say.
“Of course he knows us,” he told us. “We’ve made some changes to our group as well, but it’s a great game to look forward to.
“It was a great game to look forward to in League Two so it’s an even better game to look forward to in League One. It’s a game we’ve just got to go and roll and sleeves up and try and play our way.
“If we try and play Stevenage’s way then the chances are they’ll be better at it than we are. We’ve got to play our way and hopefully come out on top.”
And for the Cumbrians it’s a chance to build on last week’s good work.
“That’s what you’re always trying to do, just keep stepping forward,” he said. “This is a test, can we go and back up last weekend’s performance and result by getting two league performances on the bounce with a bit of consistency. That’s what I’m hoping we see.
“Like we keep saying, we’re not a million miles away, but what I say counts for nothing. In all of the games we’ve played, we’ve had spells where we’ve done well.
“I think we’ve probably showed more control in possession than we did last season so that’s something we’re improving on.
“We’re probably not being as clinical in the final third as we were last season, whether that’s because of the step up in level or because of what we’re doing. It’s probably a bit of both. The truth of it is we have to improve if we want to do anything this season.
“As long as we’ve all got that hunger to learn, we’re not going to go far wrong. We’ll keep pushing and keep driving standards to make sure we keep trying to improve. As long as everybody is on board with that, we can’t really ask any more, so that’s what we’ll continue to try and do.”
Weather forecasts predict a blistering hot afternoon down south – so does that affect the way the game is approached in any way?
“It’s been hot all week and it hasn’t made it any different, it just makes it a much more pleasant environment to be in,” he told us. “If we’re training in shorts and t-shirts instead of wearing hats and gloves in September that’s brilliant.
“It’s not a problem, the weather is an excuse. It’s what we want, we’re working outside so nobody can complain about that. It is a bit warm, but I’d much rather that than the snow and rain that I’m sure we’ll get as the months go on.
“We’ve trained well and now it’s about picking the team. I think we’ve got some good competition, but I don’t think everybody did themselves the world of good on Tuesday night, I’d be wrong to say that.
“We’ve certainly got good competition in places and that’s what we want. We need even more, I want everybody to be competing.
“We are still learning to compete with this higher level and building to be able to compete, which was never going to happen in one transfer window.
“We’ve just got to make sure we keep building to get ourselves to a point where we have a group who are able to compete at League One level.”
There are, as ever, going to be a large chunk of away supporters cheering the lads on come the weekend.
“We know we’ll get good support, we had great support there last season as well,” he said. “We can’t really ask any more from our fans, they’re turning up in their numbers and they’ll be there again this weekend.
“We have to go and perform for ourselves first, and for the club and the supporters. If we do that then we’ll make it a pleasant journey home, wherever anybody is going home to.”