It looked very much as though Dino Maamria did Carlisle’s team talk for them when the Oldham manager said he wins “every time” at Brunton Park.

A bit like his old mentor, Graham Westley, used to do, he made comments which ran the risk of coming back to bite him.

Maamria may not have intended to be disrespectful. He may just have been bigging himself up to his new employers and supporters.

Surely, though, you must realise that other teams are going to jump on comments like that and use anything they can as motivation.

Carlisle came out on top and although the performance wasn’t free-flowing by any means and not what the fans want judging by their reaction during the game, a win is still a win.

A smarter approach from the Oldham manager would have been to assess what is happening at Carlisle and try to take advantage a different way.

He would have noticed the lack of home victories and the anxiety around the ground.

Oldham would have been better advised to keep their mouths shut, keep our crowd quiet for 20 minutes and get supporters on the Carlisle players’ backs.

Instead, they started the game lethargically. Carlisle were more pumped up in those opening minutes and got the all-important goal. It gave them something to hold onto and that’s exactly what a team in United’s position needed.

Despite leading, there were still lots of moans and groans from the home supporters. Passes were going astray and people were understandably getting frustrated. Oldham, though, couldn’t take advantage.

After a couple of bad home defeats recently, though, this was a game Carlisle had to get through and take three points any way possible.

After the game we finally got to the bottom of the style of playing out from the back which has caused so much debate.

In his interview, Steven Pressley said that, while he does want to play that way, it was something his players had to manage properly.

That means that, after Carlisle nearly gifted Oldham a goal early in the second half through playing out, they had to wise up.

Their defenders stopped all that, and how much more comfortable did they look as a result?

Oldham barely had a good chance from then on. Carlisle looked far better when Byron Webster was clearing the ball and Nathaniel Knight-Percival – who possibly had his best game so far – was defending one-v-one and not having to worry about splitting and getting the ball short from Adam Collin all the time.

The argument for playing out is that Carlisle didn’t have a big striker to aim for with a longer delivery. But there is another way. When Collin started kicking more, he was aiming a little wider or putting more height on it, so that when Oldham’s defenders came through, the ball wasn’t being headed back over the midfield.

More often it was dropping right in that middle area and allowing Mike Jones and Mo Sagaf to pick it up and help the team gain territory.

From top to bottom, everyone in the league is slowly realising you can’t always try to play like Manchester City. Yes, it’s great when it works, but I can’t remember a team going through the leagues playing unbelievable football and nothing else.

Swansea are maybe one example, but even they didn’t start out from the back. They got the ball up the pitch and only then played their lovely football.

When Carlisle varied their play, you could see certain players benefiting. Jack Iredale started to get up the pitch more and grew in confidence, Christie Elliott too.

Newport, Carlisle’s next opponents, certainly know how to mix it up. Mike Flynn, their manager, comes from a similar era to me. He was a good player but knows that, when it comes to playing nice football, it’s a case of when and how.

He has been linked with League One moves and maybe, when he gets to that higher level, he will be able to play more expansive stuff in big, open spaces.

But right now he recognises he has to work with what he has. Newport are up there again this season and will be a danger in League Two throughout the season.

Having seen Carlisle adapt their game and play the conditions on Saturday, I feel a little more confident going to Rodney Parade than I might have been.

If it was evidence of United learning to manage a game better, then hopefully that will continue, and they will start solidly.

Jack Bridge will be available again after suspension but Sagaf, who started in his preferred central midfield position against Oldham, surely has to keep his place.

Sometimes you stumble across solutions and Sagaf certainly showed enough to encourage.

Yes, sometimes his passing was a little sloppy but in other aspects of his game you could see his grounding in men’s football.

He knows when a challenge is coming, knows he needs to be tough, and protects the ball well.

He has a good engine and is prepared to put his foot in.

He seems to understand the game in central midfield more than other players Carlisle have brought in, and for the time being it should be his place to lose.


After his latest Carlisle goal on Saturday the discussion about Olufela Olomola turned to the January recall clause in his loan deal from Scunthorpe.

It has been suggested that he doesn’t get on with Iron manager Paul Hurst and this might make it easier to keep him.

I’m afraid that will make absolutely no difference if push comes to shove, Olomola is still scoring goals and Scunthorpe are still in a poor position come the winter.

If Carlisle are anywhere near them in League Two, he gets called back – simple as that.

What United may have to do, if they want him, is slip in a bid and get him on a two-year deal.

He has just turned 22, so is comfortably young enough to keep developing and improving.

What I like about Olomola is that he quite clearly cares. At Stevenage he came off towards the end and, as the final whistle went, he was the first one jumping out of the dugout to celebrate the 3-2 win.

Against Oldham he was the one having a barney with team-mates, demanding more, even having a little argument with Steven Pressley.

In a respectful way, it is fine for a player to have a pop back when his manager is shouting the odds.

If everyone is pulling the same way, you sometimes need this fire. Olomola has a feel for Carlisle’s situation and understands what is required.

Overall he has been excellent. His attitude has been good and technically he has looked very capable.

Scunthorpe may already know that he doesn’t want to go back, so they might say to Carlisle: Give us 15 grand. Then the ball is in their court.

I can’t see them just letting him stay here on loan if he is banging in the goals. So it will either come down to a deal being done, or calling him back and seeing if there are others willing to take a punt on him.

For me, he would be worth the investment.