Carlisle United's next manager – if they appoint a new person at all – will fit into the Blues’ way of working rather than impose their own wholesale changes.

That message was repeated often enough for it to stick today as Blues directors set out their plans for the post-John Sheridan era at Brunton Park.

The focus, as it tends to be when director of football David Holdsworth speaks, was on “structure” but also "continuity" - and certain things were made plain.

Tommy Wright and Paul Murray, the joint caretakers, are safe. There will be no root-and-branch review of the backroom team unless individuals choose to leave.

Nor did Holdsworth rule out the possibility of the job being left in Wright and Murray’s hands for the foreseeable. He did also say, though, that some “excellent” outside candidates were being considered.

That process would be continuing this week with the strong likelihood the caretakers will be in charge at Northampton on Saturday. Next week may bring matters closer to a conclusion, once contenders have been weighed and a shortlist drawn up.

“Our ship is very, very steady, I can promise you that,” said Holdsworth when asked about the remit of any new face and any sense of upheaval created by Sheridan's resignation. “A lot of people will speculate about this and that person, and have ideas, but we will take a calculated and mature approach.

“I will stress this – we’re in a good place. Whoever comes into our football stadium, in front of our fans and players, we will make sure we’re trying to do the right thing. There are good candidates out there and we will evaluate everyone who we feel can come into our structure.

“It’s not for a journeyman or someone we see as a quick fix. Whilst we have lost John, a lot of aspects have gone really well this season. There’s not too much broken and we must be prepared to be patient, but structure is key to this club from now on.

“We are not gonna make wholesale changes. We don’t want to. If it was forced upon us in terms of a manager saying they want to do that, we’ll decline it, because we want to keep our structure right.

“Tommy Wright and Paul are doing a fine job, supported by the other boys. No-one will come here and upset the whole ship going forward. There’s no panic whatsoever.”

Holdsworth also conceded that the club could not “afford” big staffing changes, but stressed the team’s momentum, with six straight wins and a climb to fifth in League Two, reflected good work that need not be dismantled.

The idea of a head coach, rather than a manager, was also floated, given United have moved to a supposedly more modern footballing hierarchy in which Holdsworth is a bridge between manager’s office and boardroom, handling player contracts and transfer dealings.

None of these aspects, the club were at pains to say, came into the reasons behind Sheridan's decision, which was announced last Friday. Holdsworth said he had sensed things may come to a head for a while, and was anticipating the phonecall that started the recent train of events, yet was still disappointed to lose last summer’s successor to Keith Curle, after a final “seven-day” period of discussion with the manager on various aspects of the club.

“I was aware of certain situations and we acted accordingly,” Holdsworth said. “We are very disappointed to lose a manager when you have put faith in him and supported him but that’s football – we move on and we have no problem with John. We wish him well in his next job.”

Holdsworth and chief executive Nigel Clibbens were careful not to refer to Chesterfield by name, even though it is common knowledge Sheridan will be unveiled by the Spireites tomorrow. On the financial terms of their manager switching clubs, Clibbens said United were “protected” regarding contracts while Holdsworth added: “Let’s put it this way. The club that he’s going to have acted in the correct manner, and John acted in the correct manner. We have been compensated and we will be compensated for it, and that’s the conclusion of it, basically.”

On Sheridan’s exit, Holdsworth said the former boss’s exact feelings on why he wanted to leave had to remain “private”. He added the club had been “managing certain situations” and that they had handled the outcome in the right way.

Was it not the case that a tempting financial offer from Chesterfield had lured Sheridan away, and could United not have tried harder to persuade him otherwise? Clibbens said: “It was clear to us from the discussions with John over probably seven days that this wasn’t going to come down to anything that we as a club could do.

“It wasn’t about money. When he left, John said, ‘I’ve got no issues with the club, how I’ve been treated, the support I’ve been given and how everything’s worked, the relationships…’ That has not been an issue for him.

“It was other factors, and therefore there was nothing we could have done at that point.

“We talked about our plans for the window, opportunities we saw, our position in the league, the fact we can be very optimistic looking forward, [that it] was a brave decision to turn his back on all of that for something else.

“We went through that with him. To go through all that over a seven-day period or so and still end up where we shows the feeling John had that he didn’t want to be here.”

Holdsworth pointed out that the players, to their great credit, were not distracted by the upheaval and indeed produced a superb display to beat Mansfield on Saturday. “They understood the reasons for what had happened, they took a balanced view, they showed their spirit against Mansfield - a high-flying team who have big aspirations this season, and we turned them over.

“Those players came off the pitch not worried about who the next manager is. They know they’re in good hands and being looked after correctly.”

What, though, about those scarcely-concealed rows Sheridan had with certain players, Danny Grainger and Jamie Devitt among those most obviously involved, and those infamous Boxing Day interviews when he threatened to quit?

“Every manager has a man-management style,” Holdsworth said. “Some want to bark, some give you a cuddle. There’s a balance sometimes.

“Football’s an emotional game. We know what went on. But the players had our full support as always.

“John will never change. He is a very demanding man and won’t want to change that.

"A modern-day footballer has to be managed differently to before. We’re happy with the players, and the way they responded to John’s departure showed they like playing for our club.”

Holdsworth feels Murray and Wright are a “good blend” with different qualities, declining to say there is any distinct hierarchy involving the two, although adding that the more experienced Wright had ultimately picked Saturday’s team. “I watched them work on Saturday inside the dressing room and they did very well," the director of football added. "Their approach was calm but demanding and the boys know that.”

Is it possible they could remain the senior duo without the need for a new figurehead at all? “It could happen,” Holdsworth said. “But we’ll evaluate it over this week. We’ve won a game, but there’s a bigger picture and we have to think sometimes outside the box, intelligently, do our preparation right.

“There is a stable environment here which probably hasn’t happened for a while.”

It seems safe to assume Wright and Murray will be in charge this weekend. Clibbens: “[Yes], as we sit here today, but things [can] move quickly.”

Holdsworth: “I would suggest yes, they will be. I will support them as I did at the weekend. They are two good individuals and I have reassured both of them we are in no rush.

“It’s imperative we have transparency with these good guys. They are one of the reasons we are here, with their committed efforts. As far as I’m concerned they will be in charge at the weekend and looking forward to going to Northampton.”

Does this, and more broadly what has been said about their value to the club, mean their futures at Brunton Park are secure? “Absolutely,” Clibbens said. “I think we’re benefiting from the continuity these guys are bringing. Players are benefiting. We need to keep that going.

“Part of what we tried to do in the last seven months is get away from [the idea that] when managers change, you are starting from scratch.”

Holdsworth added: “When you see them, they are both fine, calm. No panic. Lots of people do start to panic and get insecure [but] I’ve reassured both, we don’t want either to depart, they are part of the club and we want to retain them.”

Would Murray and Wright be expected to formally apply, should they want the post permanently – or is their ongoing work with the team their application? “We’re open minded. We know what they can do and they’ve really stepped up in a difficult situation. I’m sure they’ll give 100 per cent.”

One potential cloud on the horizon regarding Wright is a bribery trial, a much-publicised case related to his time at Barnsley which is due to resume this month. How would United handle this, given that it involves their now caretaker manager?

“Carefully,” Holdsworth replied. “We’ve supported Tommy, and he’s been very open with what the circumstances were. It will take its process and we will evaluate it as a football club. Tommy has our full support, as he has from day one. In the process we will just keep an eye on things.”

United, meanwhile, did not want to be pinned to a timescale on an appointment. Holdsworth also said they would not - and did not “need” to - approach any manager currently in employment.

On the process, Clibbens explained: “We sat down as directors before Saturday’s game, and there was a holdings board meeting where we set out the plan of action.

“We agreed we would collate names, those names would go into David, he would make some general enquiries as to availability and whether their aspirations fitted our mandate, which is very clear.

“We then set out the hopeful timetable regarding sifting through names, making enquiries, in order to get towards the end of the week and a shortlist, and then we can start interviewing as soon as possible.

“How long that takes to get to a name over the line…it can be tricky. But we want to do it sooner rather than later.

“We are in a much different place than where we were last time [in the summer]. It means we need a different type of individual, coming into a different situation. We have time to get this right. We’re in a good place and we don’t need to rush to get someone in just to get a name on a sheet, and regret it later.

“We’ve changed lot of things of how the football side of the club has been run over the last six to seven months," the chief executive added, "and that’s stood us in good stead for this point. We are much less reliant on a small number of people for the fortunes of the football side of the club. We’re able now to withstand these kind of incidents a lot better.”

Clibbens and CUOSC’s Billy Atkinson said the extra “football expertise” Holdsworth has brought reflected these remarks, something further consolidated when Holdsworth spoke about potential transfers, and other dealings which he would handle during a spell without a permanent manager.

There would, Clibbens added, be “input” from backers Edinburgh Woollen Mill through their formal channels in the club, ie John Jackson, their holdings board director (Holdsworth also has well-documented links to Philip Day’s firm).

Who, though, would have the final say? “It will be a holdings board decision,” said Clibbens, referring to the strategic board which comprises Jackson, co-owners Andrew Jenkins, John Nixon and Steven Pattison, CUOSC’s Atkinson, and Lord Clark.

“One man, one vote around that table. The process to get there will involve myself and David to work through the candidates to present the best ones we can to that board.”

Was it, in light of Sheridan's tenure of only six months, appropriate for chairman Jenkins to praise the ex-boss's “commitment” in last Friday’s statement?

Clibbens: “You can get hung up on individual words. I think what Andrew was trying to get across was something everyone in the club would agree with – while he was here he [Sheridan] gave it 110per cent all the time.

“You could see him on the touchline, in the interviews with you guys [in the media], he was committed to try and make us better and improve the team. There were no half measures. That’s what Andrew was trying to get at.”

Confirmation of Sheridan's final decision was not reached until after his programme notes, published on Saturday, were sent to print, the directors added. The former manager's call for "everyone to stick together", read by fans the day after he had quit, was described as "ironic" by Atkinson.

Predictably, Clibbens did not comment on some of the names appearing in early speculation. Regarding some, though, he sought to temper rumours. “Owen Coyle came to watch a game with his family over Christmas because it was convenient.

“Eric Kinder was here [on Saturday] because it was booked three weeks ago and we play Exeter [soon].

“Football deals up these kind of faces and names, but I’m not going to comment.

“It’s not often an opportunity comes along when a team has won six in a row, accumulating a lot of points along the way, playing a lot of good football, and are in good place - isn’t an emergency case," he added. "That leads to better people wanting to come in and get involved.”

The supporters’ trust view, voiced by Atkinson, was that Sheridan’s departure was “disappointing” given United’s form, recent performances and impressive style of play. “But it’s also an opportunity," he said. "We’ve got to look at the whole club and it needs to work together. If someone thinks he’s in the wrong place, maybe he shouldn’t be there.

“Going forward, this is a really attractive place to come to now. It is a great opportunity and we need to take that. And we need to get the right appointment, not necessarily rush it.”

United appointed the well-travelled Sheridan in the summer despite CUOSC having said their preference was for a “younger” candidate. Atkinson said this was something that still “gets thrown back at us” by critics of the fan group. “I was one vote in six,” he protested.

On the ideal manager profile now, he said: “If you listen to supporters, they want to see an element of continuity. I also think they want a manager or head coach that links slightly better to the fanbase than John did. I don’t think he was particularly good at that.

“Basically, we want the best man for the job. It could be a youngish man or more senior, but we want the right man.”

Holdsworth made it plain that he believes United are offering an attractive job, one where their league position, form and “structure” should appeal. Any drawbacks, such as a tight budget and smallish squad which has been reliant on loans and half-season deals, were not promoted as problems.

“We still want someone demanding and focused – aspects that make you winners,” he said. “John [Sheridan] is a winner. We don’t want a soft touch to come into our club and allow our momentum to drop. We must have a man who is focused. We have a style of play, our players are focused and our structure doesn’t need to change."

Referring to the "structure" which sees Holdsworth handle board-manager issues, allowing the boss to focus on the training ground and dressing room, the director of football added: “Whoever comes in has a very easy job [in a sense], because all he has got to do is manage, and man-manage people.

"We have a solid squad, we might add a couple of bodies, but [whichever candidates] I speak to won’t be allowed to change everything.

“We must have continuity, have respect for our paying customers, the great support we have home and away, who have seen us doing well. Why change?

“We’re keen to have a person as a leader - whether that be Tommy or another - who’ll work in the framework of what we want. John was supported from day one from everywhere around the club. He had to manage the team. He coaches the team. If we need the [new] coach to work along with Paul and Tommy, we’ll look at the situation.

“But we won’t be bringing a management team into this club. The people must tick our box rather than come here for the wrong reasons.”