Over a number of weeks I have praised John Sheridan’s interviews because, to put it simply, he always comes across as though he has seen what we have seen.

When he gives you his opinion on a game, you can recognise what he says as the truth.

Sheridan played in an era many of us watched or played in and last week he went back to those times, when he said that managers can’t talk to players the way they used to.

I agreed with him when he said it was a shame you can’t be like that any more. These days it is all about finding out which players can take it and which ones can’t.

Either way, he made his point as directly as usual and, a few days later, Carlisle gave him the perfect response – a game at Swindon that looked tough on paper given the introduction of a new manager, which often gets that extra 10 per cent out of a team.

The players Sheridan picked are obviously players he thinks he can get a reaction from, and they did it with a great 4-0 win.

The player who he needed to turn up in the tight spots did - Jamie Devitt.

The player who he needed to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, something we’ve long been crying out for, did – Regan Slater.

The rest stood up to the battles well. In some cases, that was the unspectacular stuff, playing a team game, but all together it saw Carlisle coast to victory.

They have thankfully picked up some decent results after that poor run at home and the defeat at Macclesfield. Results like that, compared with what we saw on Saturday, are reasons why I’d struggle as a manager. The inconsistency must be infuriating.

Not so long ago Carlisle won at Bury and were in a great position to hit the top few places in the table. They then slid back down and I remember Sheridan pointing out that it is League Two, the players are here for a reason and inconsistency just follows you around.

It’s enough to make a manager pull his hair out, but Sheridan is experienced enough not to beat himself up too much.

That sort of attitude must only come with time. Up in Scotland, Steven Gerrard gets a great win one week with Rangers but the next sees them draw at home with Kilmarnock, and he’s livid.

That’s where his staff will help him out, keep him on the level.

Sheridan and his staff have all been through this. A lot of managers are having you on when they say they don’t get too high after a win or too low after a defeat but the Carlisle boss seems to be genuine in that.

Maybe it was a reality check for some that United’s team, featuring a number of young players, hit good form but then dipped.

I don’t imagine they will get ahead of themselves now they have improved again.

Sheridan, though, is right in saying that if they can stay around that top-10 area, close enough to the top seven, they have a massive chance.

Apart from Lincoln and MK Dons, maybe Exeter at full strength, you can’t see any team being much more consistent than another.

Newport are third, and fair play to them, but you wouldn’t look at their squad and feel they are miles ahead of Carlisle.

You wouldn’t say that about most squads, in fact. When Sheridan says he feels United can get out of this division he isn’t living in cloud cuckoo land.

He recognises what League Two in 2018/19 is all about. It’s a different division compared with a couple of years ago.

The closer we get to January the more the focus will turn to the business Carlisle will be looking to do. Their loan players and other signings have been a mixed bag in terms of ones that have worked and others that haven’t come off.

Every other team will have that predicament. It’s important the club does what it can to keep those who are doing the business.

It might prove difficult to keep one in particular – Ashley Nadesan – but that’s a subject for another day, given we have more than a month of him in the side and hopefully a few more goals.

The key is to be in the best position possible to do some decent work in January.

Regan Slater, meanwhile, will have been on cloud nine after getting his first league goals.

I’ll never forget my first. It came in my sixth game on loan at Blackpool from Sunderland and I scored the first, assisted the second and was man of the match in a 2-1 win over Notts County.

Although you may have played a few games beforehand, that first goal makes you feel you have arrived. Scoring at a ground like Swindon’s, in front of a vocal crowd, is a bit of a breakthrough for Slater.

It is the point when Chris Wilder, his boss at Sheffield United, will really take notice.

The next game, for a 19-year-old, can be completely different ,and that’s what Slater has to be aware of now. More expectation will be on him from the Brunton Park crowd.

He has put pressure on himself but you won’t have a career if you don’t take that on your shoulders. I’m sure Slater will relish that.

He reminds me a bit of David Batty – a Yorkshire lad, not the big athlete that everyone seems to want these days, but a tidy footballer, box-to-box and good feet.

I think Sheridan sees a bit of himself in him, too, in how tenacious he is. If he keeps progressing the way he is, he could have a great future ahead of him.


The shambles at Notts County went on with their second managerial sacking of the season and yet another attempt to find a way out of trouble in League Two.

I heard a couple of phone-ins last week where a couple of Notts fans spoke about owner Alan Hardy.

They acknowledged he has put a lot of money into the club and is clearly ambitious.

But they also had a message for him: can you please just stay of Twitter and concentrate on what you want to do, not trying to gauge every fan’s opinion? You run successful businesses already, so run your club like you run your businesses.

Block everything out, make decisions and stand by them.

I wonder if he was a bit seduced by Harry Kewell’s profile, the ex-Leeds and Liverpool player, the Champions League star.

It didn’t work, although you have to give Hardy credit for realising quickly he had got it wrong.

At the time of writing the names being mentioned for the job include Paul Hurst and Kevin Nolan, the latter having been sacked before the appointment of Kewell in the first place.

That would make a mockery of the whole thing. Personally I feel he has someone in there in my former Barnsley team-mate Steve Chettle who could, given time and the right tools, do a great job.

He has had a grounding in non-league, has managed youth teams, and has all sorts of experience.

This is the time of year when managerial jobs start coming up a bit more often and you’d like to see clubs thinking outside the box a bit, not falling back on the same old names, the same old faces who keep getting sacked and employed time and again.