Paul Murray is doing his best to reflect positively on his third spell at Carlisle United, even though it ended with the shock of being told he was no longer required by his home city club.

After a year back at Brunton Park as first-team coach, following two playing stints, Murray was let go by the Blues on May 15, at the same time as assistant manager Tommy Wright. Both had been brought in by former boss John Sheridan last summer, and both had been retained, initially, by Steven Pressley after his appointment in January.

Come the end of the campaign, though, all change. Both were called to meetings soon after the season ended and were informed United would be going down a different path in terms of their first-team backroom staff.

Since then, Gavin Skelton has stepped up from the academy to be assistant manager, a move that followed the departure of youth boss Darren Edmondson – a playing contemporary of Murray in those home-grown 1990s days.

These changes will reshape United once again. While there were rumours in the air regarding Wright’s future towards the end of 2018/19 (a return to Sheridan’s side at Chesterfield would not be a surprising development) Murray must now consider his own future elsewhere.

Any parting such as this can hardly be made on cheerful terms – “I’m gutted, because I’m a Carlisle lad,” he says – but 42-year-old Murray believes he was involved in some good work over the last season, even as he does not hide from its disappointments.

“I enjoyed the year,” he says. “I left a good job at Fleetwood [where Murray was development squad head coach] and it was always going to be one of those where we had to make the best of it.

“I believe Shez, Tommy and me recruited well, we got good players in, and at one stage we were third in the league, and possibly could have gone top at one stage.

“I look back at that time really positively, because we were up there for a while, and were scoring lots of goals and playing good football.

“Then there was the change of manager [Pressley’s appointment after Sheridan left for Chesterfield] and it was a difficult situation, because we lost three of our loans.

“But for me, and for everyone at the club, we still had ample opportunity to hold on to a play-off place. The really disappointing thing from my side of it was that we didn’t.

“It wasn’t to be, but we had enough chances to be in those play-offs. Results were going for us every time and we still didn’t do it. That’s the most regretful thing for me.”

Murray has just charted a down, up and down season which United started moderately, then surged into the promotion race with a brilliant winning run in the winter – then, as loanees Ashley Nadesan, Jerry Yates and Jack Sowerby left in the new year, a more challenging time again, and a final dip to 11th.

This, though, already feels like ancient history given the more recent events. Among them, an exodus of senior players, many of them released and others, like Jamie Devitt and Tom Parkes, having rejected new deals. Four players have come in, with several more needed.

Then there are the staffing changes. Murray says he had no notion that he was going to be dispensed with. “I didn’t have an inkling, especially with the season we had, or should have had, which would have been getting in the play-offs. As far as I was concerned it was still a pretty successful season, but we failed with that final aim.

“At the end of the day, he [Pressley] is the manager. It’s his prerogative. I can’t argue, that’s the way it is. To begin with, they’re going to save on at least one wage, and I hope what’s saved goes into the playing budget.

“In terms of the decision, the proof will be in the pudding. If the manager has made the decision for me and Tommy to leave, and gets promoted, then people will be able to say it was justified. If he gets rid of two staff and struggles…”

Murray, who was joint caretaker manager alongside Wright for two games after Sheridan’s January departure, returns to the subject of recruitment. This aspect, he says, was something he particularly enjoyed contributing to and is something they must now get right, given the large amount of gaps in the squad still to fill.

As an example of this work, he says he was heavily involved in the third of United’s summer signings, Gateshead defender Jon Mellish, whose arrival was confirmed the day Murray and Wright departed.

“It was actually my old Carlisle team-mate, Gareth McAlindon, who alerted me to him first,” Murray says. “I went over and saw him a couple of times and [reported back] on this kid who’d played for England C, is decent and a good size. Hopefully he’ll do well.” Murray also says he recommended Ash Taylor, the former Northampton defender who instead joined Aberdeen where higher wages are believed to have been on offer.

“To recruit the number of players they need and gel them will be a challenge,” Murray adds. “I hope he [Pressley] does it, for Carlisle. If they get the recruitment right, they’ve got a good chance.”

Murray, meanwhile, feels no bitterness to the man who has stepped up into the assistant manager void. “He’s a great guy, Gav,” he says of Skelton. “I’ve worked and played with him before. He always gets the detail right and he will do well. I think he’s a potential future [Carlisle] manager.”

It is rare for Murray to experience a summer out of the game, but he will not be without positive distractions. For instance, his 17-year-old daughter Pia, a rising swimming star, will be representing Great Britain at both the European Junior Championships in Russia, and then in the World Junior Championships in Budapest, in July and August respectively.

As for his own future, he will be quickly seeking another opening. “I’m going to enjoy this time off, but by pre-season I’ll be looking to get back on with it,” Murray says. “I’m in football because I love it and I feel I’m useful, not because I think I’m owed a living by it.

“I’m sure something will come up. I’ve been in the game for 26 years or so. I’ll see what’s around and what tickles my fancy.”