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Saturday, 22 November 2014

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Murphy welcomes Ward

By Jon Colman

LONG-SERVING defender Peter Murphy, the only player still at Carlisle from John Ward’s previous spell with the club, has welcomed the new manager’s appointment.

The Eire international centre-half was part of the Blues squad when Paul Simpson drafted in Ward as his temporary assistant in 2003, after picking up the pieces from the failed Roddy Collins regime.

Ward was only at Brunton Park for a month before leaving to take the top job at Cheltenham, but he made a big impression in that short time, according to Murphy.

“He isn’t a coach that goes around shouting and bawling,” Murphy said. “He gets his point across by telling you and talking to you.

“It’s funny that it has come around again and he is back at Carlisle, but it is a good move for him.

“He enjoys training, loves football and he is a good man to work with.”

United were a dramatically different proposition in 2003, with the squad left by the sacked Collins destined for relegation from the football league despite Simpson’s best efforts.

And off-the-field, the club was still haemorrhaging money under John Courtenay – a huge contrast to the improved financial performance under Fred Story.

“Even back then I think John Ward came into the club because he saw its potential,” Murphy added. “It’s a totally different club now and we’re in a much better position, so it’s a great job for him to take over.

“Any time I’ve been asked what he is like, such as the times we played Cheltenham last year, I could only say good things about him and that’s still the case. He’s a very good coach and a very nice man. It’s a good choice.”

Murphy said he was pleased the United board have finally ended the uncertainty which has been hanging over the club since Neil McDonald’s sacking on August 13.

Greg Abbott has been caretaker manager for 10 games and has guided the Blues to fourth in League One, and while Murphy paid tribute to the 43-year-old coach, he said the appointment of a new manager has put to rest any behind-the-scenes confusion at Brunton Park.

“I think it was dragging on a bit so it’s good that the decision has been made,” he said. “It’s good for the players and good for the club.

“I’m pleased with the news. Hopefully it will kick us on now. We’re in fourth position and hopefully we can stay up there.

“Greg has been brilliant all the way through since Neil McDonald brought him here and since he (McDonald) left. He is great to have around. If he wants to go it will be a big loss, so we would be happy if he is staying.”

Abbott will be given the main responsibility for team selection for the visit of Millwall tomorrow and for Tuesday night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie with Chester (Brunton Park, 7.45pm) as Ward plans to be “just an observer” during his early days at the helm.

And it seems likely that the new management team will field the same side that started Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw at Hartlepool and the 3-1 win at Bournemouth last Saturday, although captain Paul Thirlwell is back in contention after his recent calf injury.

Meanwhile, McDonald will soon learn whether he has been successful in his bid to land the vacant Gillingham job. The 41-year-old is believed to be on Gills chairman Paul Scally’s two-man shortlist, with Steve McMahon another rumoured contender for the post.

McDonald’s Swedish third tier side, Östersunds, have two games left to beat the drop and victory at home to Umea tomorrow would take them to the brink of survival.

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