We can’t afford to get carried away, but there is no question that we are all pleased with the work we did at Brunton Park before last week’s transfer deadline.

The targets, we had known about for quite a while. As manager and coaches we all sit in the office and talk about various people at all stages of the season. But we were delighted to get the particular players who came in over a short space of time.

We did make a last-ditch effort for Ashley Nadesan to take him on loan again, and of course Jerry Yates too, on deadline day. Had we got either it would have been the icing on the cake - but it’s still been a very good window for us.

One big factor in getting in the players we have is the run we’ve been on. Parent clubs who have sent players on loan to us will have noticed Carlisle are on the up, winning eight out of nine, and that always makes a difference.

We have all had our input into the recruitment process and it’s all about knowing the players personally, or knowing people you trust to give you a good insight into them. We do our homework, have our contacts and are forever watching these players on Wyscout. It’s pleasing when it comes together.

Arthur Gnahoua, who is unfortunately now injured, was on the radar for a while. The gaffer’s son is at Aston Villa and that has helped give him a close knowledge of Callum O’Hare.

Mark Cullen has always been in our sights – a really busy forward who we hope can add something good. Nathan Thomas, too; people in the club, like Regan Slater at Sheffield United, know him well, I was aware of what he did at Hartlepool, and Tommy Wright also has good links at Sheffield United.

Stefan Scougall, our last signing of the week, is someone else we’ve all known about. Craig Wight, our goalkeeping coach, also knew people in Scotland, including at St Johnstone, who could give an insight into Stefan.

People always talk in football and it became known to us that Stefan was going to get paid up at St Johnstone, as he wasn’t playing. Someone in his situation will always be in contact with various people to try and establish where he can go. If you are going to become a free agent in that transfer window, you need to have a few suitors.

In our position, you have to figure out if he can come in your wage bracket and, once various things drop into place, it can be a bit of a rush, in terms of the player needing to get down as quickly as possible, so nobody else gets their claws into him.

I’ve got no doubt that he had a few offers, but it’s great that Stefan decided to come to us. We showed our interest from an early stage and his prior links with the manager, from his time at Fleetwood, also benefited us.

I heard the gaffer talking to Stefan after the player had left St Johnstone, and he made it very clear how much he wanted him in his team, how much he wanted him to help the push for promotion.

That rapport always helps and in the case of Scougall it was an integral part of him coming to us.

Speaking more generally, the manager has come across very well since coming into the club. He is good with people and that goes a long way. When he did his first talk to everyone after being appointed, I thought, ‘Yeah – I’d want to play for this guy’.

His stature, and how clear he was in explaining what he wanted, resonated with us all. He has acknowledged that he hasn’t needed to do a lot of tinkering, because we were already doing well. He has instead implemented small changes, which have been really effective, and helped us continue the run we were on.

Everyone is pulling in the right direction and wants success. Personally, it would be a third promotion I’ve been part of at Carlisle and that is another motivation.

In terms of the weekend, I feel it could be a blessing in disguise that the Crewe game was postponed. It gives us another week for the new lads to settle in, to get on the training ground and to know what we’re after from them.

We trained on Friday as normal and then, once it was announced that the game was off, it was decided that, because the lads have had a hard run of matches, it was the chance to give them a rare Saturday to themselves: probably their first since the season started.

They all got programmes to follow over the weekend and it was also stressed that they got some good rest. Now they can come back refreshed and all guns blazing, ready to crack on for the last phase of the season.

We come back to a home game against Exeter, which is a good one for us. We were half-cooked when we lost 3-1 there on the opening day, after having had had a manic pre-season because of the numbers we needed to get in over a short period of time. Hopefully this weekend will be a different kettle of fish.

We are in better nick, have a stronger squad and, against certain teams we didn’t do ourselves justice against earlier on, like MK Dons too in this run, it’s a chance to put that right.

The effort in the club to get more fans back to Brunton Park, with the #8kforMK campaign, is also very positive. The more the word is spread, the more chance we have of persuading people to return.

That can generate its own momentum and hopefully we will all benefit.


The club agreed to let four young players go last week in Jack Egan, Sam Adewusi, Kieron Olsen and Max Brown.

Those lads now have an opportunity to go away and pursue a fresh start as they try and make a career for themselves.

They hadn’t featured much in the first team and, squad-wise, we are happy with what we’ve got.

We had tried to get loan moves for them but it was proving a bit difficult. We thought it was best as a club if, before the window, we could help them on their way.

They are getting what they are due under their contracts and it was felt that this time of year was better for them to try and get fixed up, rather than wait until the summer when there are so many more players looking for clubs.

It’s surely a better opportunity to do that now, rather than them sitting in the building, training, and not really having much of a chance come the weekend.

It is such a tough ask for any young player to go on and make it in football. There is only a small fraction who do go on and have good professional careers. The stats don’t lie.

With these four, you certainly hope one or two of them kick on and even prove us wrong. There are often knock-backs along the way and it is about how you come through them.

Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out for them at Carlisle but they can go and make their own way in football now, if that’s what they want to do, and I only wish them the very best of luck for the future.