David Holdsworth today revealed he has a candidate in mind for the Carlisle United manager’s job – but said it won’t be his decision alone.

The director of football said the board will make the final call on contenders to replace Chris Beech at Brunton Park.

Holdsworth spoke today at a press conference for the first time since last Sunday’s decision to axe head coach Beech.

Among his comments on the appointment process, Holdsworth said:

  • United would not "rush" the decision;
  • They have received applications from individuals who have managed at higher levels;
  • The Blues would be prepared to pay to secure a boss who is under contract elsewhere;
  • Caretaker Gavin Skelton "won't do himself any harm" by achieving good results; and
  • Businessman Philip Day will not have any input into the process despite his links to 'succession' talks.

United are sifting through applications whilst caretaker boss Gavin Skelton, assisted by Eric Kinder, prepare the team for Saturday’s visit of Tranmere.

Asked by the News & Star if he had an individual in mind, Holdsworth said: “I do.”

Asked if that person would be actively pursued, though, he said: “No. I’m not on the board. I am not a board member.

“The board will be given a shortlist of people to consider, and my influence will be the fact that person has managed at a higher level, has a really good way of motivating, making players believe, and can take this club forward.

“The location of that person might not be right. There’s a lot of things to consider. That’s not just a flippant remark. Carlisle’s not around the corner, and you’ve got to be committed to the area, to wearing the shirt with pride as a player, and as a manager I want someone to be in the area.

“We did that with Steven [Pressley] and John [Sheridan], and Chris really tried to do as much as he could to be part of the community, with the players as well.”

Holdsworth said United would not “rush” into a decision.

He added: “We must have a strategy. I’m a big believer in that, the person who comes in must know our players, and come in and enjoy it.

“It’s imperative that the person that comes through the door has the ability to lift this group, and must know the group.

“When you take applications for the role of head coach here, I’d like to think anybody that came through the door isn’t going to waste my time and not know our players.

“It’s imperative we find that person that can work with a very talented group that just need a redirection and a lift.”

Holdsworth said he had been asked by the board to lead the application process.

He also said Skelton’s credentials would not be dismissed if he leads the club to good results in the short-term.

Asked if United would prefer someone with a past connection to the club or had worked at League Two level before, he said: “I think we’ve got to be transparent. Whether someone’s played here or not, they’ll know about our supporters and how passionate they are, and that’s a good thing.

“They’ll know it comes with the other part if it doesn’t go successfully.

“Supporters must believe and trust [we can] find the right type of person.

“The board will have their ideas, everybody’s got an idea at the moment, everybody’s texting me with this or that person, but we don’t need to rush.

“Gavin Skelton’s been here, knows the team, the players this week have worked very hard and intelligently, [Skelton and Kinder] have put some good sessions on to try and lift that spirit. And then we’ll evaluate that.

“I don’t want to dismiss Gavin Skelton. Gavin and I have had some good conversations this week.

“I think continuity’s very good. Gavin’s in charge Saturday and we’ll go from there. I can’t predict the next three to five games.

“I will say Gavin’s done everything right this week. He’s had a knock this week because he was part of the Chris Beech team, and I think Chris and Gavin really grew as a pair. Gavin’s been at this club a long time and it was me that supported him to be here when he had the opportunity to leave. Gavin knows my thoughts on loyalty and respect, and he’s been given that this week.

“The most important thing is the football club. We’ve got to try and lift it and on Saturday come 3pm we hope the players are ready and geared up. I know Gavin and Eric have worked very hard on strategy this week in training.

“Whoever the board and I look at, we must make sure they’re capable and going forward, we don’t want to be in this situation again in six months.”

Holdsworth said United have received “loads” of applications and a list of names will be whittled down to a shortlist who will be interviewed by the board, including chairman Andrew Jenkins.

He suggested a board vote, which has happened in previous appointments, would again be the method of reaching a final decision, though he indicated he would personally be prepared to lead the process in a different way.

“There’s been some very good names who have managed higher, managed lower, ex-players…everything’s documented, and we’ll evaluate it as soon as possible,” he added.

“The hard thing for me is trying to be in six places at once and we have a game in Wales on Tuesday [at Newport].

“We want to concentrate on supporting the team this weekend, hopefully get three points.”

Given the quick turnaround of games it seems likely Skelton and Kinder will remain in temporary charge into next week.

Holdsworth, meanwhile, insisted Carlisle would be prepared to pay to secure a manager who is under contract elsewhere if they decided such an individual was the right man.

“I think I’ve got four people whose agents [have expressed interest] – four people I would have to pay for,” he said. “I’m not averse to that at all. If it’s the right thing for us we must do it.

“We have to evaluate them all and sit down. I’m going to give it to tomorrow, over the weekend, to look at and try to bring that smaller element further forward, and the board and I will evaluate those.

“You’ve got to have a strategy and plan. I hope everybody can conclude that sooner rather than later, whether it be Gavin Skelton [or anyone else]…if Gavin wins the next two games then certainly he’s doing himself no harm.”

On the timeframe and logistics of meeting candidates, Holdsworth added: “Some of the applicants who I would intend to see are in the south. There’s a lot of travelling for me, I had some good meetings yesterday, and we want to do the right thing.

“If our supporters felt we were making a knee-jerk reaction it would be stupid and wouldn’t be right. They’ve got to have our trust and belief we are evaluating all of the opportunities that are coming forward.”

Asked why fans should have faith in the club getting this decision right, in light of the failed Steven Pressley tenure and the fact Beech left the club third bottom, Holdsworth replied: “Form is always the key. Five weeks ago we beat Salford, and unfortunately results haven’t been particularly good. But I think the level of performance is what let Chris down.

“If you come away from Bristol Rovers losing 1-0 but giving everything, the 4-500 people that travelled down there would have come back with a bit of belief.

“You can come away 3-0 and it paints a different picture. Players know – I addressed them on Monday, Tuesday, and they know they’ve underperformed.

“It’s not been great, and there are people who want to question everything; that’s fine, they’re entitled to their opinion. The most important thing is we do pick the right manager and we’ll support him as I will always do and so will the club.”

Holdsworth distanced himself from the idea United need a firefighter in the dugout given United’s predicament near the foot of the table after 11 games.

“I don’t want to think negatively. Some people might, I’m not. I’m a positive person. I’d like to think two wins, next week we might get nine points, and all of a sudden people might be smiling a little bit more.”

He would not be drawn on whether a new man would be asked to work with the existing backroom staff, should the club look beyond Skelton for the role.

“That conversation hasn’t taken place,” he said. “Certainly it won’t until we know what the shortlist may be. That’s a decision that will be done very privately.

“Gavin’s been asked to take the helm for now, and Gavin will be successful wherever he goes because he’s a very honest young man and I like Gavin a lot. But it won’t just be my decision and it will be done privately.”

Holdsworth, meanwhile, said the decision will be made entirely by those inside the club.

He said Philip Day, whose Edinburgh Woollen Mill firm have financially backed the Blues since 2017, and who is believed still to be in “succession” discussions with club owners, would not have any input.

Asked whether Day would have any involvement in the process, Holdsworth said: “No.

“Certain people don’t really know a lot about football in this world, some people I do know know a lot about others. No, there’s no influence at all.”

Holdsworth said it was “unfair” to be asked about Day but, when told fans would be keen for clarity on the topic, replied: “That’s fine…people know of my association with Philip. He has no influence whatsoever at all on who the manager will be. Rest assured that will be the case.”

Holdsworth was also questioned about his role in United's predicament, criticism of his position from fans, and accountability at Brunton Park - an article will follow later covering those areas.