Carlisle United bosses tonight spoke about the decisions to back – and then sack – former boss Steven Pressley.

The Blues said they retained the Scot despite a disappointing end to last season because he presented a “blueprint” which was “inspiring”.

But they said they had to act by dismissing him in November because Pressley’s plans had not translated to the pitch.

Director of football David Holdsworth, speaking at a fans’ forum, was challenged by a supporter on the decision to extend Pressley’s tenure last spring.

The fan asked where the “accountability” was in that decision – a word used by Holdsworth when he first arrived at the club.

Holdsworth replied by saying that other “more seasoned” potential bosses were considered at the time, but “Steven was spoken to by the board and the blueprint of what he was going to bring...he wanted to do his own recruitment and got our full support, but unfortunately it didn't work".

Holdsworth said Pressley’s plans were ideal on paper but it didn't work on the pitch.

He said: “The blueprint we got from Steven, his development, how he wanted to manage the team, was fantastic, it sounded inspiring at times...but the football wasn't inspiring.

“Playing out from the back didn't work, tippy-tappy football, we were successively conceding goals.

"It was very frustrating,” he added. “We wanted continuity...but it was hard to watch. Results didn't come and then you have to change.”

Pressley said in late November that he had to work with a "bottom four or five budget" at United, and that he was told he had "100 per cent backing" shortly before he was dismissed.

He also felt that given time he would have made a success of things.

Co-owner Steven Pattison also suggested the process of hiring a manager came with few guarantees.

He said: “You might as well put all the names in a hat and pick one out. They all talk the talk, tell you what you want to know. They all go to the same charm school. 'I can play attacking football, work on this budget, fetch players in'. Fantastic…

"How many managers last more than two years?”

Pattison did, though, say that he felt United had “got a good manager” in Pressley’s successor Chris Beech.

Co-owner John Nixon, too, talked about the judgements made when supporting managers, referring to the time Graham Kavanagh was backed to build a new team despite 2014's relegation, only to be sacked after a poor start the following season.

Nixon said he was "impressed so far" with Beech.

Carlisle, meanwhile, were asked about the undisclosed fees that are commonplace in the game, the latest example being the deal that took Jarrad Branthwaite from United to Everton.

Nigel Clibbens, the chief executive, said this was “custom and practice”, and that in such a deal, the buyer provides the contract, which in Everton’s case came with a confidentiality clause.

Clibbens added: “I prefer the NFL way - player contracts are out there, you know what players are earning, black and white. Transparency might make people do better deals.”

Holdsworth said he would have preferred to tell fans what Carlisle got for Branthwaite but they had to respect the confidentiality clause.”

Holdsworth was also challenged on the one-year deals United had handed out last summer, a fan saying this had been a “race to the bottom” policy which had led to some poor football.

Holdsworth said: “It comes down to circumstances. The summer was a different place to now in terms of finances."

He said 95 per cent of those players have options in their contracts, and those deals gave the club less risk than giving those players longer deals. "Thank god we didn't,” he said, adding that the policy meant the club did not now face signing heavy severance cheques for players they wanted to let go.

He also said he and the board had sought to “protect the club” with longer-term deals offered to young players such as Branthwaite.

Holdsworth also spoke about the professional contracts offered to four 18-year-olds this week.

He said that, from next Monday, Charlie Barnes, Charlie Birch, Liam Lightfoot and Tom Wilson would be given “development” programmes which would be regularly monitored with three-monthly reports, with the help of video analysis, in a bid to help their eventual path to the first team.

He added: “They're Cumbrians. I believe in this club. We have a responsibility to make sure those boys are progressing. I hope this year as a development year will be really progressive.”