First rule of presenting a new era: make it look as different as possible to the last one.

You see it across football. Take the England manager's job, and the period when the FA lurched from energetic passion (Kevin Keegan) to detached sophistication (Sven-Goran Eriksson) back to the chummy and home-grown (Steve McClaren), overseas again for aloof discipline (Fabio Capello) before returning once more to homely Englishness (Roy Hodgson).

When one approach doesn't work, do the opposite. Or at least try to show as much.

At board level, change is often more essential, more serious. At Carlisle United right now the talk is of a fresh approach, yet the new bosses are the same as the old ones, by and large.

This, one senses, will be the most crucial and challenging sell of all: convincing people that this time it is going to be different, better, brighter, that the patterns and habits of the last 10 years are not to be repeated.

Not all is the same, it must be said. A new voice, being heard louder than ever, is David Holdsworth. The director of football, who addressed supporters directly for the first time at Thursday's fans' forum, is becoming the figurehead for United's new way of working.

Not exclusively so, since chief executive Nigel Clibbens has for some time spoken of a different financial direction. Holdsworth, though, is the fresh face, the public-facing individual at Brunton Park's top tables who is not associated with any part of the past decade; its ups, downs, direction and baggage.

It was, predominantly, Holdsworth who sought to draw this line in the sand on Thursday evening. Old grievances were better left behind, was the message. Carlisle have a new manager, new players and a fundamentally new off-field approach, one based on prudence, "accountability" and youth development.

There was talk of slates being wiped clean, a need for fresh unity. Yet this could not be done without several references to what United are moving on from.

Hence, the spending habits of the Keith Curle era got numerous airings. Sat alongside the men who sanctioned and signed those cheques, Holdsworth said it was now all about tackling "the legacy" of overspending.

"These gentlemen [on the board] helped the previous manager considerably, [and] it didn't work out," he said. "That's no reflection on Keith Curle, it happens in every league."

This came some time after John Nixon, the co-owner, had described United's former manager as "one of the more difficult ones [to manage]," which presumably was a reflection on Curle. With CUOSC's Billy Atkinson also referring critically to Curle's approach to academy players, and last year's playing style, these remarks set the stage for presenting John Sheridan as a more positive operator, a better fit for the here and now.

It was also reported, by chairman Andrew Jenkins, that Sheridan had claimed throughout his career to have worked with a tight budget, and so was comfortable with the limited resources here.

More comfortable than Curle would have been? It wasn't said so explicitly, regarding the man who saved United from relegation and later led them to the play-offs. But supporters were free to wonder.

These aspects formed the background to the line directors were keenest to get across. Holdsworth was most impassioned when he talked about harmony between club and community, repeatedly stating it was about "we" - directors, manager, players, fans, sponsors, all together - rather than "us", ie only those on the club side of the fence.

"A club can only go forward if it's we," he said. "It's not about sponsors or who wants to buy the club."

This was part of Holdsworth's answer to what had been a more specific question about the "elephant in the room" - Edinburgh Woollen Mill's involvement and intentions at United.

It seems clear that Holdsworth does not intend to be a spokesman for this relationship. "Regarding Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Mr [Philip] Day…that's irrelevant to me. They deal with the top people at the club," he said.

It fell to Jenkins, then, to make the only other comment of significance about the firm backing United. "Philip Day was [once] a director here, he has respect for us, he's moving his offices into town, and he's right behind us," Jenkins said. "He doesn't really like football but he will look after us financially."

That, other than the same fan expressing that it was a shame EWM's club director John Jackson was not present, was about all the airtime the firm holding many of the keys to the Blues' future received.

Yet it would be naïve, given the talk of new beginnings, to expect questions on this subject to fade. Jenkins, speaking about United's renewed focus on producing young players, suggested at one stage that, had he realised how potent the club's 1990s wave of home-grown stars was going to be, he would never have sold the Blues to Michael Knighton.

The reality, though, is that he did, since United were at the foot of the Football League, broke and declining. How much further would the club have fallen in such a condition?

It is a reminder that, whatever the moves made at ground level, nothing matters more than the decisions, clout and ability (or willingness) to keep writing the cheques of those at the top. Holdsworth has spoken warmly about his time at Gretna, the "fairytale" rise under Brooks Mileson, and what a story that indeed was.

Right up to the moment the money stopped, that is. In football there are owners good, bad, indifferent, loyal, erratic, temporary, long-lasting and all other shades. Supporters will not (and should not) stop wanting to know how EWM approach things from here, how influential they currently are, how possible it is that their sponsorship and "looking after" the club, with loans and in other ways, could one day be stepped up.

How much this current move towards "sustainability" has to do with them, and what happens next.

These should not be untouchable things, certainly not for ever, since they are more overriding than the other important matters raised on Thursday.

Such, for instance, as United's wish to become a production line again of local talent, in spite of the pitfalls that hold some kids back ("Growing pains, or girls, and drink, nightclubs, or iPads," as co-owner Steven Pattison put it, the late Steve Jobs shifting in his grave).

Such, also, as United's ability to improve their facilities, Clibbens explaining how they are doing what they can, with what they have, at a time when wider redevelopment remains distant.

Such as other areas, big and small, like the perception of Nixon's FA and EFL roles, how much United spend on agents - "95 per cent" less, Holdsworth said - the impact of live-streaming, plans to fill the supporter liaison officer vacancy, and the saga over a new scoreboard.

"Let's look forward and be positive," Holdsworth also said. That aim, you feel, will hinge on how many people can see United not as broadly the same people in new clothes, but a critically different - and eventually better - operation.


Unlike Accrington's Andy Holt, Carlisle chief executive Nigel Clibbens did not feel "misled" by the EFL over the decision to allow the live-streaming of Saturday games on international weekend.

This, though, should not get the League a free pass.

Much of what Holt said, and has said since, has an air of familiar truth.

It concerns approach, openness, tone. United, no doubt the same as other clubs, said they received in the summer a list of fixtures which would be subject to the new live-streaming facility for UK-based fans.

This included certain Saturday 3pm matches. In which case, one may not be able to accuse the League of a complete transparency shutdown.

It is not, though, as if such a fundamental move - the Saturday "blackout" agreement has existed since the 1960s in order to help clubs preserve attendances - got the flagging up it deserved.

Where was the vast consultation such a decision ought to have received? Where was the round-table discussion, the pooling of views, the airing of objections, the vote?

It seems that, as with the Checkatrade Trophy, the League are sweating words like "trial" and "pilot" for all they've got; nudging these schemes into life before many have had the fullest chance to address the implications.

It says little for the quality of the EFL's leadership. Then again: Shaun Harvey.