What we have here is the managed drift of a season, a club even. There is little sense of permanence around Carlisle United right now and this is hardly a position that can be allowed to remain for long without some damage being done.

At the time of writing the manager is here until the summer. Beyond that, nobody knows. The same goes for a host of players, the marketing boss is departing after less than three years in post, and then you come to the ownership, which we are often told is ready for the hills, but never quite gets there.

For a regime approaching its 10-year anniversary, it doesn't say much for a sense of evolution and, with little over two months left this season, there appears a policy of inactivity on some key decisions.

Those in charge might think it prudent to wait on Keith Curle's future and, by extension, the fate of out-of-contract players. Mix this with mid-table inconsistency, though, and you are going to have a fair old job selling the product.

What, after all, can the public hang their hats on at United today? It cannot yet be the club's choice of manager or the core of a squad that is still trying to rise from the middle ground. And these are the basics, the front-of-house stuff; the main individuals, as the soon-to-be-gone sales and marketing director Phil King recently argued, that fans want to hear from the most.

Yet what are they to say? Curle does not know whether he retains the board's faith past May, and half his squad (of those not on loan) do not know whether they have his for the long-term - or, indeed, whether someone else will be doing the hiring and firing.

This campaign might feel as though it is already on its final laps, yet seven Brunton Park games remain. On current crowd levels, that is the equivalent of at least two Lionel Richie concerts, maybe a bit more.

How do the club sell those events with the same enthusiasm as they are giving to that old crooner? Curle, on whom supporter opinion appears genuinely split, issued another rallying call this week, but people have heard these before and in the current position are entitled to ask: what, exactly, are we getting behind here?

A plan, a big idea, a carefully-plotted path? Or a hedged bet? From the top, it seems more of the latter. Supporters can smell this from miles away. Dissatisfaction starts with what happens on the pitch and often stays there, but some of it also spreads. It begins to ask questions of those at the wheel, and which way they are turning it.

Nigel Clibbens, the chief executive, is openly sceptical of five-year plans but, at a recent directors' press conference, hinted at a certain change of direction all the same. Although stressing that he did not believe "changing managers" was "a recipe for success", Clibbens also suggested United would be looking at the "balance" of its spending.

In other words, less on the team and more on other areas, like the academy and further aspects that could enable a firmer handshake between club and community. The unspoken aside, one sensed, was that the manager, Curle or otherwise, would have to slot into this altered picture.

We can look forward to those thoughts being fleshed out, but nobody should kid themselves that the managerial decision won't still be, in a large way, results-based. Whatever alternative priorities are on the table, do you imagine Curle's future would not have been sorted by now had United been higher in League Two?

If Carlisle wish to be better at growing their own as a more fundamental part of what they are, a proper blueprint that way would be a creditable thing. How many, though, would support that from a place of even more tightly-costed mediocrity in the fourth division?

Who would put up with principles if the main brew remained tepid? Who would have faith in those delivering philosophical change unless things were also getting better on the first-team pitch? The current sense of disgruntlement suggests a new image of United as a modern-day Crewe or a souped-up Exeter, say, would take quite some marketing. Bearing in mind how their last big idea on youth has progressed - the half-baked "one to nine in 10 [years]" policy that is nearly halfway through and seldom mentioned today - people may need to be forgiven a certain scepticism.

It cannot help, too, that other ideas are not yet clear, such as what is being privately discussed regarding the stadium, and when it comes to future ownership, the club's logo could easily be replaced by a large question mark. What, if anything, Edinburgh Woollen Mill would like to do with United is still not known, since they are not for talking, and on this subject it is not escaping the attention of a number of fans that February 2018 is also the month when official comment on our old friend, the "billionaire", was anticipated, with it chairman Andrew Jenkins' long-standing promise to confirm his name at the expiry of non-disclosure agreements.

Up to press, it remains a cloudy old picture, whatever attempts at explanation have been given - and not just from Brunton Park, bearing in mind the efforts made to prise any sort of insight from the camp of Yahya Kirdi himself; the Syrian who spent 650 days courting the Blues between 2015 and 2017.

It can be revealed here that Kirdi, through his lawyer, "agreed" to an interview about Carlisle as long ago as November, on condition that everything he said on the subject was published. When it came to the arranged interview, though, calls went unanswered, and a subsequent offer to respond to emailed questions has not yet been honoured, more than two months after a detailed list was sent.

This may be a belated and, in many ways, outdated addition to a familiar story where he is concerned. Yet it brings back up a lasting question: what is it, you have to ask, about Carlisle United that so tightly nips the tongues of those who want to fund it and some of those who actually do? What is so special or extraordinary about this fourth-tier football club that it cannot be spoken of, and its fans not spoken to?

Again - were the rest of the picture better and more confidently shaped, you could live with some of the above. When so much of United remains up for grabs, with such a temporary feel even with owners and a manager who have been around for a good while now, it is difficult not to wonder why, other than because of dyed-in-wool loyalty, people would board this present train.