With his silvering beard and busy CV, Steven Pressley was introduced to Carlisle’s supporters as a manager of experience. It is an image he is happy to present only to a point.

“You may not realise this, but I’m actually only 45,” he smiled, a couple of hours after being confirmed as John Sheridan’s successor.

“I’m still a relatively young manager, but I’ve had eight-and-a-half years of experience north and south of the border, and also abroad. Because of that you’re getting quite an experienced manager of 45 - and a much more rounded manager.”

Carlisle hope to reap the benefits of this at a pivotal point both in their season and recent history. Pressley’s immediate remit is to keep the Blues at the right end of League Two. Having signed a deal until the end of this campaign, it is also to prove he is the right man for the longer-term.

The new manager’s contract, like the length of many of United’s player deals, points towards a summer of major decisions, as well as the club’s new financial reality. Pressley says he will embrace what amounts to an 18-game audition for a more substantial stay at United’s helm.

“The short-term contract holds no fears to myself,” he said. “I was very satisfied with that. I went to Cyprus last year, where Pafos were fighting relegation, and it was similar. I had a short-term contract there.

“I’ve got real belief in my work, so the length of contract is no issue to myself. The real issue is that we manage to make strides and hopefully, if we are successful, that takes care of itself.”

Pressley impressed United’s board with his bearing, his plans, his willingness to fit into their ways of working (director of football structure, existing coaching team, budget) and it also cannot be said that this is a man unaccustomed to a challenge.

At Coventry, in particular, he managed a club in crisis, before a shorter spell at the smaller but aspirational Fleetwood Town, both in League One. This came after cutting his managerial teeth at Falkirk. He said: “I think in football, a lot is made of success and failure, but also an apprenticeship’s very important. Sometimes in life and in many jobs we don’t do the appropriate apprenticeships.

“I feel I’ve done an appropriate apprenticeship as a young manager and I feel I’m a far more rounded manager than ever before. I’m coming into this job very confident in what I can do, and very excited and honoured to be working here.

“It’s a great opportunity. My first two jobs in football were very much about stabilising, developing young players and creating sustainable football clubs. That was what I found in my first five or six years in management. Then in my next two jobs it was about staving off the threat of relegation both at Fleetwood and Pafos in Cyprus - which I must confess was a bit warmer than this last January….

“So to come here with a situation where there’s a serious opportunity for promotion is very exciting, and it’s something I’m really looking forward to.

“Ultimately football’s about winning, having medals and trophies to show for your efforts. The intention is to continue the good work of John, and as well with Paul [Murray] and Tommy [Wright], build good relationships with the players and try to create an environment that breeds positive results.

“Hopefully we can achieve what everybody wants, which is promotion back to League One come May.”

Pressley met the media this afternoon shortly after his appointment was announced, and later in the day he planned to speak to coaches and former caretakers Wright and Murray. Ahead of that, he was keen to get on record his appreciation of both.

Stressing he was “very comfortable” with having to work with the backroom staff Sheridan left behind, rather than bring in his own people. Pressley said: “I know Tommy from playing against teams that he’s been involved with, and from meeting him at a number of grounds on our travels. I like him a great deal; he’s a great football man.

“Paul, I don’t know on a personal level but people at Fleetwood [where Murray was coach] have informed me that he’s very good at his job, he made a good impression there and he seems to have made a good impression here.

“I’m looking forward to working with these guys. We talk about continuity being key, and that’s important in that respect.”

On specifics, Elgin-born Pressley said the Scottish player market was one area he felt Carlisle could “exploit”. On the squad he has inherited, he accepted the Blues need attacking additions and is speaking to director of football David Holdsworth on those areas, as well as being aware of “one or two possible injury situations”.

On Brunton Park itself – where, in 2013, he managed Coventry to a 4-0 win which if anything flattered United – he said: “I also came down here and watched several games when I was Falkirk manager, and we’ve got a very good fanbase here. It’s a traditional stadium, which I like – a real football stadium.”

He could not avoid smiling at mention of that heavy Sky Blues win during the last days of Greg Abbott. “We scored a couple of early goals, but at 2-0, if I remember rightly, you had a penalty that could have changed the game. Fortunately for us it didn’t go in. At that time we had a really exciting striking partnership in [Leon] Clarke and [Callum] Wilson - we were a very effective team at that time, a very fast team.

“I also have good memories of - and one of the attractions is - the pitch, which is generally a good pitch to play a nice brand of football. I’ve seen it this morning and for this time of year it’s in an excellent condition. That’s a real plus.”

Pressley is known for his work ethic and for preaching an attractive playing style. This, though, will not be imposed without considering what United do and do not have. “Anybody that’s worked with me know that I love to play very pure, fast football. I like a high pressure game. But I’ll have to assess how we’ve played before and be very conscious of that.

“I will adapt certain things to ensure there isn’t wholesale changes. Clubs I’ve inherited in the past have required significant change because of the position of the team. This isn’t a broken situation. Of course any new manager will want to bring certain changes but not wholesale changes, far from it.

“The work that has been done [so far] is excellent work. The players themselves seem very comfortable with what’s gone before. Continuity is a key word and I will just implement one or two tweaks which I think can improve the team.”

What about United’s more restrained financial approach, and how this may affect his recruitment wishes? “They [directors] have said they would back me as much as they could. Like every club, there’s financial restraints - this club is no different to any club, we have to work within our means. That’s the reality.

“But every penny they can give towards gaining results on the field is certainly going to be made. We hope, over the next couple of weeks left of the transfer window, we can get in the personnel that will help the current squad.”

Pressley, an iconic defender at Hearts who also straddled both Old Firm clubs and collected 32 Scotland caps, believes he can bring “leadership” to Brunton Park. “As a player I was a captain at most of my clubs,” he said. “I understand the mindset of players. I try to relate that to players in every aspect, making sure they get out of their bed in the morning and are excited about what they are coming into.

“I’ll also treat the players like grown men, adults. But relationships are reciprocal, so I expect that back – a degree of trust, the values of being a football player. All of these things are very important.”

Pressley attended United’s last game, the 3-0 defeat at Northampton, and has watched footage of other matches, as well as those of this weekend’s opponents Cheltenham. His first test comes at a stage in the season when there can be no long bedding-in period.

“I’m not here to deflect anything,” he said. “I understand what the expectations are. I want to be part of those expectations and I’ll certainly push that. I want us to achieve our goal, which is ultimately promotion at the end of the season.”

Some new managers prefer to take in a higher view of their first game, from the stand. Pressley seems keener to get his hands dirty. “I’m generally a dugout manager. I’m sure I’ll be down there. I’m really looking forward to it.”