A look at Carlisle United’s progress under Chris Beech so far, and some of the key facts and figures of the head coach’s fledgling reign.


The first thing to say is, however the numbers are juggled, Carlisle United are in a more comfortable position now than they were when Steven Pressley was removed from office in November.

Then, they were five points above the relegation place. Three months later the gap is 13.

Although they are lower in the table now (21st versus 19th), nothing is more important than the size of that cushion.

While Stevenage have floundered, United have gathered enough points to seem, at this stage, relatively safe.

It is undeniable that Chris Beech has made United harder to beat. They have lost four of his 14 league games so far, a loss percentage of 29 per cent.

This is far better than the equivalent statistic under Pressley this season, since his Blues lost more than half their league games – nine from 17 – or 53 per cent.

If a struggling team’s foundation must be improved before all else, then in this department Beech has succeeded. United have three clean sheets from his 14 games, improvement on average from Pressley’s three in 17.

The next step – turning United into a more consistent winning team – has, by contrast, yet to be taken.

Beech’s points per game ratio of 1.14 is a touch better than Pressley’s (1.06) and this, again, is a result of being more difficult to beat rather than being able to win more often.

Pressley’s win percentage of 29 is, in fact, better than Beech’s – 21 – with Carlisle having won three of the new head coach’s 14 league games to date.

The new boss would, no doubt, point to United’s dogged efforts in the FA Cup as further signs of a more durable team. Since they emerged from the January transfer window, meanwhile, they have lost once (to Cheltenham), their only defeat in seven.

Add more victories to the regular draws and the picture of progress will be even clearer.


Again, it is in the department of keeping the ball out of their net where Beech’s United have impressed more.

From his 14 league games, they have conceded 19. This is a better average (1.4) than Pressley’s (1.7), the latter a result of shipping 29 goals from 17.

Over a 46-game season that works out as 14 goals fewer and recent results in general reflect the sense that United are staying in games better.

In an attacking sense, there has not been the same uptick. Carlisle are lamenting the absence of certain forward players just now and this has accompanied the wait for the team to become more consistent scorers.

Their ratio for hitting the back of the net has, by a small margin, decreased; Pressley’s team got 18 in 17, Beech’s 14 in 14.

It says something about the season in general, meanwhile, that only once in 33 league games have United won by a margin of more than one goal – the outstanding 4-1 victory at Forest Green.

It explains why, as well as staying in games, other teams have usually tended to be in the contest against the Cumbrians.

All of this underlines the importance of their recent, improved run in general which, whilst not providing too many wins, has still accumulated some useful points in stages.


Beech has steadily imposed his preferences on this United team and it is not difficult, when looking at the games to date, to identify who he has entrusted the most.

Adam Collin, the goalkeeper, is on track for an ever-present season, playing every league minute under both Pressley and Beech.

Three outfield players, meanwhile, have also started every game, in all competitions, since the new head coach arrived in late November.

Gethin Jones, versatile and reliable at full-back, is one. Namesake Mike, in midfield - the only outfielder to have played every league game in 2019/20 - another. Further forward, Nathan Thomas’s name has always been on a Beech team sheet.

Others have been in regular favour, such as Byron Webster. An improving performer in defence under Beech, he has played all but one of the head coach’s 18 games, only missing the goalless draw with Grimsby because of concussion protocols.

Aaron Hayden, arguably the biggest beneficiary of the managerial change, has also played in 17 of 18, only absent from the Cardiff cup replay to suspension. This after getting just three outings under Pressley, none in the league.

Beech has also picked Elliot Watt for all 10 of his available games since January. Another new boy, Nick Anderton, has started six in a row.

Ryan Loft gets, on average, more opportunities under Beech; seven in the new boss’s shorter time in charge than in Pressley’s longer stint (eight). Teenager Taylor Charters has been blooded with seven first-team appearances since January.

It is just as clear which players have found first-team time harder to come by. That does not just apply to those quickly jettisoned, such as Christie Elliott, who made one appearance under Beech in the 3-0 defeat at Colchester, and subsequently moved to Dundee (Nathaniel Knight-Percival, who also started his one Beech fixture that day, is firmly out of favour).

Others have work to do to regain a regular place. Midfielder Mo Sagaf made 16 appearances under Pressley but only has four to his name under the new boss so far. Similarly, Olufela Olomola played 22 times before Beech’s appointment, nine since.

Jack Bridge: four games since Beech’s arrival, 21 before. Jack Iredale: four and 22. Jon Mellish, four and 12, although he came back into things at Crawley on Saturday in a new midfield role.

Thomas, meanwhile, has the most goals under Beech – seven – and has also taken the majority of his nine for the season since the new boss took charge.

Harry McKirdy, by contrast, scored more of his 11 under Pressley; seven then, four since.

As long as United keep inching down the road to improvement, they will consider the job well enough done given the predicament in November. Then, given some of the 18-month deals awarded recently, they will approach a summer of slightly less upheaval than the last, but one where more emphatic, improving steps will still be needed.