LET’S GO AGAIN

Carlisle United boss Keith Curle tar­gets an­other pro­mo­tion push

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By John Lyons

THE sound of ecstatic Ex­eter City play­ers whoop­ing and hol­ler­ing last sea­son will en­sure Carlisle United do not suf­fer a play-off hang­over.

That’s the mes­sage of Cum­bri­ans boss Keith Curle af­ter his side suf­fered play-off agony last term.

In an in­cred­i­ble play-off semi-fi­nal, Ex­eter came out on top 6-5 on ag­gre­gate, with Jack Stacey’s dra­matic stop­page time strike prov­ing de­ci­sive.

It earned the Gre­cians a trip to Wem­b­ley (where they lost to Black­pool), but it was sea­son over for Carlisle.

Curle told The FLP: “I made sure the play­ers lis­tened to the cel­e­bra­tion of suc­cess in that Ex­eter chang­ing room.

“The play­ers were dis­ap­pointed, but when you hear some­one else cel­e­brat­ing you need to use that as a driv­ing force for your own sit­u­a­tion.

“We also went out proud of what we had achieved and we knew we had given a very good team a test to the max­i­mum.

“As a view­ing spec­ta­cle, it would have been wor­thy of the fi­nal.”

In­deed, the Cum­bri­ans could be proud of their six­th­placed fin­ish last term. Do­ing bet­ter this time around won’t be easy.

The likes of Mans­field, Lu­ton, Coven­try and Swin­don are more highly fan­cied, but Curle sees that as a chal­lenge and not a prob­lem. “There’s a ten­dency that the favourites are the peo­ple who spend the most money,” said the 53year-old.

“Lu­ton have paid a quar­ter-of-a-mil­lion for a striker (James Collins) and Mans­field have been out­bid­ding every­one, but the games aren’t played on paper.

“As a club we have over­achieved over the last few years. Our fin­ish­ing po­si­tion has been above our fi­nances.

Re­ward

“We are striv­ing to over­achieve again. The struc­ture we have got is an in­cen­tivised one. The club want to spend more if the play­ers are suc­cess­ful on the pitch, which is the right way to do busi­ness.

“I don’t mind pay­ing out if play­ers have earned it and we have got pack­ages in place to re­ward them if they do well.”

Former Manch­ester City and Wolves de­fender Curle has re­shaped his squad over the sum­mer.

Goal­keeper Mark Gille­spie has stepped up to League One with Wal­sall, while striker Jabo Ibehre has moved to Cam­bridge United.

De­fend­ers Shaun Bris­ley (Notts County) and Pa­trick Brough (More­cambe) have also headed out of the exit door, as has mid­fielder James Bai­ley (Yeovil).

On the in­com­ing side, the ex-Mans­field, Ch­ester, Torquay and Notts County boss has been busy.

Goal­keep­ers Jack Bon­ham, 23 (from Brent­ford) and Shamal Ge­orge, 19 (Liver­pool) have both joined on half­sea­son loans.

Strik­ers Hal­lam Hope, 23 (Bury), Sam Cos­grove, 20 (Wi­gan) and Richie Ben­nett,

25 (Bar­row) will give them ex­tra fire­power, while ex­pe­ri­enced mid­fielder Kelvin Etuhu, 29, has also come in from Bury.

Cen­tre-back Tom Parkes, 25, has been snapped up from rel­e­gated Ley­ton Ori­ent.

Am­bi­tion

Curle said: “I feel we’ve not only brought in good play­ers, but char­ac­ters with the heart and de­sire to suc­ceed.

“It’s not all about how much money you are go­ing to pay them. All the play­ers had bet­ter of­fers fi­nan­cially.

“I have a con­ver­sa­tion with the play­ers to get a feel for them, their am­bi­tion and de­sire, and they get a good un­der­stand­ing of my ideas and how I see them fitting into our game plan.

“I’m hon­est about their frail­ties and why they are play­ing in League Two. It gives them some­thing to strive for.”

One of Carlisle’s prob­lems last sea­son was re­plac­ing the goals of striker Char­lie Wyke, fol­low­ing his mid­sea­son move to League One Brad­ford City.

It’s not sur­pris­ing that he’s hop­ing that Hope, a pre­vi­ous Carlisle loa­nee, can help fill the void.

And the former Eng­land in­ter­na­tional doesn’t hide his de­light at cap­tur­ing his man.

“I chased him more than I chased my cur­rent girl­friend!” joked Curle. “Hal­lam started his ca­reer as a cen­tre-for­ward, but he’s been used in wide ar­eas be­cause of his work ethic and his abil­ity to do that.

“Part of the rea­son he came to us was that I see him as a cen­tre-for­ward. He wants to play up front and I’m giv­ing him the op­por­tu­nity.

“He’s got a point to prove to him­self first and fore­most – and he’s got com­pe­ti­tion for a place be­cause we’ve got four strik­ers, but he can

score goals.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

READY FOR BAT­TLE: Carlisle United man­ager Keith Curle and new sign­ing Hal­lam Hope BIT­TER PILL: Carlisle play­ers in de­spair af­ter Ex­eter’s last-gasp play-off win­ner

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