What should be the main aims on and off the pitch at Brunton Park in 2020, and what else could raise Carlisle fans' spirits? Here we choose six areas to target.

1. Survive in League Two. Few long-term wishes can flourish without the Blues first completing what should be an achievable short-term aim.

United are not out of the woods with 21 games to go. But any side seven points above anything at this stage ought to have enough to see their mission home.

Positively, Chris Beech has stemmed the flow of defeats since arriving: just two in nine games. He has yet to see his team concede at home, and the best of his Carlisle, against Forest Green, Walsall and Cardiff, has been encouraging.

It was never going to be a quick or easy road, though, and realistic improvements must continue to be sought. Carlisle have generally looked safer at the back under Beech but defeats at Colchester and Crewe were reminders that certain flaws remain.

One league win from six is a record that will need to be boosted early in 2020 in order to keep the chasing group at arm’s length, whatever else happens to Macclesfield.

Improving United’s goal threat, an obvious aim this window, would consolidate that cause.

2. Isolate longer-term strengths and weaknesses. Beech has appeared a careful operator, refusing to castigate low-performing players publicly.

He has also, though, demonstrated a quietly ruthless edge. Canice Carroll and Nathaniel Knight-Percival have not made the matchday squad recently, while the Cardiff game saw further decisive moves.

After a struggling first half at Crewe, Jack Iredale was lowered to the bench three days later and the steady hand of Gethin Jones whistled back over to left-back.

The versatile Jones is someone United will surely want to build around, and not just this season.

Others have a few more months to improve one-year deals and either remain at Carlisle, or rise elsewhere. Signs of more consistent offerings from Harry McKirdy have been seen over the festive run and Beech has drawn broadly better things from Byron Webster too.

From now to May will be a decisive measure not just of ability, but of character. Beech will be looking closely at who he sees fit to keep, and who to dispense with.

3. Clarity, please, on the bigger picture. We seem to be here every year, hoping and asking for Carlisle’s ownership questions to be convincingly answered.

Maybe 2020 will be the time it finally happens, and the recent suggestions of “succession” will at last be converted.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s hand in United affairs will, it seems, remain decisive, and this year needs to be one of deliberate, positive steps.

What is the next stage after this current book-balancing time? How does the strategy develop? What other internal and over-arching changes do those with the power want to make?

If we are still asking these things in 2021 it will not say much for the commitment to building a “flourishing” club. At the very least, the sight of change must become more visible and the messages shared more openly too, leading to less cynicism among fans about who truly calls the shots.

4. Make the Jarrad Branthwaite situation pay off for all. This month already feels like it is going to be non-stop on the rumour front and one hopes Carlisle’s 17-year-old defender emerges with the right conclusion.

Whether that is a big-club move, a loan back or a longer retention of faith in his Carlisle position, Branthwaite is too gifted a prospect, and too decent a boy, to be the victim of an unwise decision.

One hopes he, and particularly those guiding him, such as agent David Reeves, can make the most responsible choice in the end.

If United do sell, meanwhile, it must be for club-building purposes as well as to ease any bottom-line strain.

Immediately they would be parting with their best defender, and fans would need to be shown how any income would benefit the Blues.

Replacing talented young assets is rarely easy, but nurturing more will help – and signs of coherent reinvestment could also reduce some worries.

5. Engage the masses again. This time last year United were about to build up to their #8kforMK campaign, which flourished so well it led to a five-figure crowd.

That showed what certain staff are capable of when given the licence to be proactive and bright.

It also required certain circumstances, and in early 2019 there was a promotion push involving a few players (such as Danny Grainger and Jamie Devitt) who were more identifiable favourites to fans.

There is never a wrong time to be creative with offers and campaigns, but an #8k initiative this term would be a harder sell.

Something to prompt more folk to get behind a survival push under a new boss: yes. Flooding Twitter with the same kind of amusing content when your squad is fourth bottom? Maybe not.

As ever, it would need emphasis and direction from the top – and a sense that those folk, not just the staff on the ground, are in tune with the general mood.

6. The year 2020 also serves as a neat anniversary for one of Carlisle’s best seasons: the Division Three title romp of 1994/5 which also brought a maiden Wembley outing.

Certain commemorative plans are afoot and hopefully a fine and engaging Blues team will get the recognition it deserves, a quarter of a century on.

For some fans of a certain era the “deckchair army” days provided their first taste of United as a successful entity. Others of slightly older vintage will draw on the 45th anniversary of their 1974/5 First Division season.

One should seldom need an excuse to put these eras back in lights, and suitable celebration might also remind everyone what Carlisle United can be like when it is on the front foot and vibrant.

An appearance by Michael Knighton at the Old Fire Station in April might not be toasted by everyone. Expect the old chairman's return to divide opinion, as he usually did.

The playing and managerial heroes of '94/5, though, warrant no such debate. They were among the best of the Blues, and should be told so.