Carlisle United have today appointed former Rochdale assistant manager Chris Beech as their new head coach.

The 45-year-old has signed an 18-month deal to become Steven Pressley's successor at Brunton Park.

Beech's odds tumbled overnight and the coach has now been confirmed to take charge of the fourth-bottom Blues in League Two.

His first game at the helm will be Saturday's FA Cup second round tie at Forest Green.

Beech emerged as United's top choice despite a host of higher-profile names having been linked with the job, such as Michael Bridges, Neil Redfearn, Owen Coyle and Kevin Nolan.

His last role was at Spotland where he was No2 to Keith Hill before the pair were sacked in March.

This will be his first permanent job in charge of a first team.

Carlisle today said Beech would work with the existing backroom staff, suggesting that caretaker manager Gavin Skelton would remain along with coaches Nathan Rooney and Craig Wight.

They also insisted he would remain in charge of identifying transfer targets despite the club's change of job title from manager to "head coach".

In a statement, Carlisle chairman Andrew Jenkins said Beech would work alongside director of football David Holdsworth on the recruitment side.

Co-owner Jenkins added: “We’re taking a new approach for the club in defining the position, with us in the past having appointed managers.

“We see the head coach role as being specific to the football department, from first team through to youth team. Chris will pick the team, coach the squad and organise the day-to-day routine as he prepares for each game.

“Looking ahead, he will identify the players he feels will enhance the squad and he will then work with the director of football on the recruitment side of the process. The contractual side of that process will be with the director of football, but it will be the head coach who will identify the players he wants to bring in."

Beech faces the challenge of guiding Carlisle away from a relegation battle with the Cumbrians five points above the relegation place in the fourth tier after one league win in eight.

Holder of a UEFA Pro Licence, his playing career started at Blackpool under Sam Allardyce before spells at Hartlepool, Huddersfield and Rochdale.

Jenkins added that Beech wanted to work closely with the youth set-up at United.

He highlighted his "track record" for bringing through young players who were later sold on for significant fees, and replacing them "under budget".

Carlisle's statement listed a number of players Beech brought through at Spotland, saying Dale Stephens, David Worrall, Will Buckley, Scott Hogan, Jamie Allen and Andy Cannon have since commanded transfer fees worth more than £25m.

The chairman added: “We have conducted a very thorough process and we would like to thank everybody who contacted us to show interest in this position.

“We are very pleased that we have a reached a successful conclusion with the appointment of a coach who has gained a lot of experience as assistant manager at Rochdale, where he worked closely with the first team and youth squads through what was a very long spell at Spotland.

“His enthusiasm when speaking to us was fantastic to see, and he was very clear in how he wants to approach the job, both in the short-term and the long-term. We’re looking forward to seeing him put his plans into action and we are all looking forward to working with him.

“Chris has already stated that he has a huge belief in the development of young players and it goes without saying that he will work closely with [academy manager] Eric Kinder and Mark Birch going forward as they look to establish a clear and structured pathway, and as we look to continue the success we have had in that area recently.

“He has a proven track record in the identification and recruitment of players and he was known at Rochdale for strengthening the squad under budget to replace those players sold at a premium.”

Beech's coaching career began with the under-12s at Bury before a stint as their youth team manager. He then returned to Rochdale to work with the youth team, before being promoted to assistant manager in 2013.

He has also had two caretaker manager spells during his long association with Rochdale.