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Carlisle havent exactly had the greatest start to the season. Losing to Orient, Bradford, Coventry and Leicester shipping 18 goals the process. Knocking Blackburn out the league cup and a credible draw at Colchester remain their only shining light to date.

BillytheBee chats to Jake Phillips from keithmincher.com about all things almost North of the border including hen dos, Carlisle’s chances in the Scottish Premier League and Terry Butcher taking Greg Abbott’s job.

Carlisle got their first points on the board last weekend away to Colchester. That must have been a relief? Talk us through your shaky start.

It’s been a shaky twelve months, to be honest. Things are much worse now than they were last season, though, so the point away at Colchester on Friday night was a relief and probably kept Greg Abbott in his job for another week. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly why performances have been so poor so far and I think it’d be unfair to blame it on just one thing. The 5-1 home defeat against Leyton Orient on the opening day set the tone for what has been a miserable few weeks. But to answer your question, it was nice to have something to cheer about even though our early lead was cut out midway through the second half.

Do you see things improving in the short term?

No, quite honestly. Much was made of how the team had shown fight and determination to take a point away from Essex, which would’ve been fine if they’d managed to then follow that up with a good performance in the League Cup against Leicester. They didn’t do that and we once again conceded five goals, with some pretty shambolic defending on show. I think the damage has been done and the rot will continue unless Greg Abbott moves on. Saying that, disposing of Abbott wouldn’t solve all our problems either, so where we go from here is anyone’s guess.

Your manager Greg Abbott has proven to be successful with relatively little resource finding some decent players including Paddy Madden now plying his wares in the Championship with Yeovil. Surely there is only so much he can do with limited resources before he starts to struggle?

It’d be silly to suggest that we should be fighting for promotion every season because the fact of the matter is that there are sides in the division capable of bringing in players on big money. Just look at Peterborough. Up until the end of the 2011/12 season, Abbott had improved us year-on-year on a shoestring. We had by no means the least amount of money – our budget now is 50% greater than Yeovil’s – but he was able to bring in players on the cheap with a desire to succeed for the club. Lee Miller, Adam Clayton, Ben Marshall, James Chester, etc.

We finished 8th in 2012 and the expectation last season was that we’d go one step further. We didn’t, and the side was weaker than before, losing games by significant margins every week. Money was wasted on dishing out big contracts to average players, and we struggled. That’s when Abbott started to blame resources as a reason for our demise. In reality, it does make a big difference, but it’s no excuse for the abject performances we’ve seen over the course of the past twelve months.

Will Abbott get the sack?

That depends on the result this weekend, really. Another loss and I think he’d have one more chance to put things right against Port Vale. A win (that won’t happen, by the way) and he’d maybe be given another couple of weeks. The vast majority of fans would like to see a change so it’s down to the board to make a decision. Things cannot carry on like this.

Ex Brentford manager Terry Butcher is top of the Scottish league at the moment with Inverness Caledonian Thistle with. He has a few ex-Carlisle players in the side like Ritchie Foran and David Raven. He obviously knows your team. Would you fans like him to do a job at Carlisle? Anyone else being bandied about?

I don’t like talking about replacements really. What I would say, though, is that we’d need somebody who understands just how important the club is to the people of the city. They’d also have to place emphasis on our youth system, like Greg Abbott has done, so that the current crop of very talented youngsters would have chance to shine and help move the club forward

Did you lose any players in the close season?

We released quite a few players, mainly to cut costs and to freshen the side up after last season. Mathieu Manset (now at Coventry), Rory Loy (now at Falkirk), Jon-Paul McGovern and Peter Murphy were the most high-profile. In my eyes they were all correct decisions. Some will argue differently, of course.

Did you pick any players up?

David Amoo, Josh Gillies, Adam Campbell, Lewis Guy and Danny Butterfield are the ones fans of other clubs will most likely have heard of. Gillies scored 15 and assisted around the same number for Gateshead last season but hasn’t yet shown us exactly what he’s capable of. David Amoo has already scored four goals for us despite being written off by every Tranmere and Preston fan in the land. He’ll be our man to watch on Saturday.

What’s your style of playing? Who are your key players?

We usually play in a 4-3-3 formation with Lee Miller acting as a target man for other players to feed off. On form, he’s one of the best of his kind in the division, but, as you know, things haven’t worked out so far. He’s been left isolated and the ball has spent so much time in our goal that he hasn’t had much chance to show what he can do.

Mark Gillespie, our goalkeeper, has been our stand-out player. He’s kept scores down to single figures and it’s only a matter of time before a better club comes sniffing. There are areas of his game that he still needs to work on but he has time on his side.

Gillespie
Butterfield / Livesey / Thirlwell / Black
Berrett / Potts / Noble
Amoo / Miller / Robson

Head to head, Carlisle are just shading it winning 12 games to the Bees’ 11 with 8 games drawn. Do you think Carlisle will maintain their advantage after 90 mins on Saturday?

No. I’d be amazed. A draw would be a fantastic result. It won’t happen, though. You’ll win 4-0.

Many folk are probably unaware that Carlisle were top of division 1 (now the Premier League) for a brief while in the 70s. Can you see those days returning?

Without investment there’s absolutely no chance of that happening. Our natural level is in the lower reaches of League One so it’d take something extraordinary even to reach The Championship.

Were you there for the famous Jimmy Glass last minute goal? In a strange way, that was probably the same but reverse of our last minute penalty against Doncaster. Did the place erupt?

I wasn’t there but you only have to watch some of the videos to see just how special it was. People will talk about that day for many years to come. It really was amazing to stay up and survive as a club in the manner that we did.

Are your main rivals PNE or Hartlepool? What is the best rivals game you have been to?

Ah, there’s an interesting question. Preston fans claim we’re not rivals, some of our fans do. In reality, it probably isn’t a rivalry, but games at Deepdale are always fun and the 3-3 draw on Boxing Day in 2011 was a classic. We took 4,000 fans and despite a last minute equaliser from them, it was a great day out.

You are serial finalists in the football league trophy having got there 6 times. Is that because Carlisle are a fantastic cup team or because the Northern section is comparatively weak?

I don’t think the latter is right at all. We beat Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday on the way to winning it in 2011 and they were both very strong sides. From a financial point of view, cup runs are vital, which is why we’ve always taken it so seriously.

You first won it at Wembley the year we lost to Crewe at Wembley in the division 1 playoff final (1997). Then you were lucky enough to play us again in 2011 at Wembley to consign us to our 5th consecutive final defeat despite us being red hot favourites. We hope you don’t get to Wembley this year

Yeah, after losing 4-1 the year before against Southampton it was a relief to go there and do the job properly. Going to Wembley to watch your team play is always special and the fact that Peter Murphy, who was our longest-serving player, scored the winner made it even better. It was a brilliant day for everybody connected to the club. Obviously it hurts hearing that as a Brentford fan but I’m sure you’ll be back there soon, most likely vying for promotion.

Like Brentford, Carlisle are planning a stadium move. How is your move to Kingmoor Park progressing? What is the general consensus from the fans?

We’ve heard very little about the development recently. Most fans understand that the club has to move forward and can’t do that whilst playing at a ground like Brunton Park. It has a lot of charm and would be missed if we do eventually move on, but the sub-standard facilities and poor atmosphere don’t do much to attract new players, let alone potential investors.

Do Carlisle find it hard to attract players and managers due to your location?

It is an issue, yes. Saying that, we are able to attract players from the North East and Scotland, which helps us a lot.

If a player really wants to go somewhere then they’ll go there regardless of location. Carlisle’s geographical location is just a convenient excuse a lot of the time.

It’s a right hike to and from Carlisle. Do fans chose specific away days to target every season (one where everyone goes to) or do they go with the flow?

We tend to have about 100-200 fans who go to all the games all over the country. Then there’s a London Branch, and they go to a lot of the games further away from Carlisle. We’re always well represented on the road and it’s a real credit to the club that people are willing to give up so much time to go and support the team. In that respect we’ve got some of the best fans in the division.

We had a night out in Carlisle last season. Why do you get so many hen do’s in town?

Carlisle was recently named Europe’s most promiscuous city. Maybe it has something to do with that.

We were surprised to find so many fans from Scottish teams in Carlisle for our match there. There were probably over 50 that we met alone. Do you think you might actually fare pretty well if you played in the Scottish Premier League (big fish in their relatively small sea)?

We always do well against good SPL sides in pre-season so the answer to that is probably yes. Everybody knows how poor Scottish football is; on form we’d be a match for a lot of sides.

Beesotted would like to thank Jake for taking time out. For more news, views and screws on Carlisle check keithmincer.com. You can follow Jake on twitter – @jk_cufc