Paul Simpson dealt with the question with all the relevance it deserved in the present situation. “I don't think I've ever been a manager with a director of football…I can’t even be bothered thinking about it,” he said.

And so, right now, say all of us. Simpson returned to Carlisle United for a 15-game mission with a necessarily narrow focus. This was a job of management, of working with players, of hopefully lifting results and with a clear end point of May 7.

The future can wait. The matter of the hierarchy, the structure, the way the Blues will be shaped long-term – not Simpson’s bag. The agenda today is a mission to Oldham Athletic, backed by more than 1,100 travelling fans.

Much to look forward to, to anticipate. The survival aim is off and running with back-to-back victories, and the focus is where it needs to be: on the pitch, on the team. On Simmo.

Eventually, though, we will turn the page onto May 8. Carlisle will, we all desperately hope, still be a Football League club and at some stage decisions will need to be made not just on the immediate look of the Blues but their broader shape.

News and Star: Under a manager of Paul Simpson's calibre, right, there seems little need for an overseeing DoF figure (photo: Barbara Abbott)Under a manager of Paul Simpson's calibre, right, there seems little need for an overseeing DoF figure (photo: Barbara Abbott)

It is unlikely that many supporters will be wearing black armbands today at the recent demise of the director of football position. By the end, David Holdsworth was a largely unpopular figure with fans and a lightning rod for severe criticism.

It was United’s first toe-dip into the DoF world and was not, let’s be honest, the way you would do things if you had a blank page to fill and entirely your own set of thoughts to guide the process. Carlisle did not, after all, advertise for the role or, to the best of our knowledge, interview candidates for it.

They did not set out a job spec and then work in a structured way to fill it. Holdsworth, an associate of Philip Day, arrived as part of Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s increased involvement in United affairs and the Blues’ business was shaped accordingly.

It was a hire that shed clear light on the influences at play. It told you where certain shots were very much being called. It accompanied everything United did over three years, a period when EWM, and related parties, moved towards but did not ultimately conclude a Blues takeover.

News and Star: Keith Millen and Holdsworth both left on the same day last week (photo: Barbara Abbott)Keith Millen and Holdsworth both left on the same day last week (photo: Barbara Abbott)

It was not, you have to conclude, everyone's brainchild at Brunton Park and, after much debate and the recent decline, the role is no more. Carlisle, at the point they had decided manager Keith Millen had to go, also decided they no longer wanted a DoF.

Considering the calibre of Millen's successor, there is immediate logic here: it would have been absurd to think Simpson needed his hand holding in any aspect of his job.

Better to put that resource elsewhere. In the meantime, it is interesting to consider exactly how and why that particular decision was reached; on what accountability measurement club directors judged Holdsworth’s race to be run.

It cannot have been solely on the basis of managerial appointments bearing in mind Billy Atkinson, the CUOSC director on the CUFC Holdings board, stressed to members last week that Holdsworth never brought undue pressure to bear when it came to recommending candidates.

News and Star: CUOSC's Billy Atkinson said the Millen appointment was the Holdings board's decision and Holdsworth had not put pressure on the decision (photo: Barbara Abbott)CUOSC's Billy Atkinson said the Millen appointment was the Holdings board's decision and Holdsworth had not put pressure on the decision (photo: Barbara Abbott)

Millen may have been led to the table but the Holdings board, Atkinson said, also liked what they saw in him. It was those people who weighed up his qualities and his CV and pushed the button.

Nobody on that board has carried the can for that failed appointment. If it came down to the players United signed, meanwhile, that would of course be at odds with Holdsworth’s insistence that he played no part in the identifying of targets, only attending to deals when the manager had pinpointed who he wanted.

Carlisle, we know, did not retain a number of senior players last summer, losing several to better contracts elsewhere. Is any part of this the reason United, as Atkinson put it, felt a change of “structure” was required amid their worrying decline this season?

Is it that the DoF position, as far as they could tell, wasn’t working in general, and so the incumbent was effectively encouraged to fall on his sword? Were there other things about Holdsworth's remit or otherwise that led directors to apply the red pen?

These questions might never be thoroughly answered and, right now, few will feel greatly bothered about that. It would be a shame, though, if United left the DoF matter completely off the agenda for the long run.

It is easy to deem it an unnecessary indulgence at Carlisle’s level, particularly when they have a man of Simpson's gravitas, experience and intellect in the chair. Simplicity can be a virtue. The feel of United, right now, is undeniably better than it was.

The presence of a figurehead who can set a club’s ethos, principles and recruitment standards is not, though, just for the elite, bearing in mind the number of sporting directors or similar across different tiers today.

News and Star: United's decision to bring back Paul Simpson has revitalised the club and fanbase (photo: Richard Parkes)United's decision to bring back Paul Simpson has revitalised the club and fanbase (photo: Richard Parkes)

It is plainly a job worth reconsidering one day if United could do it fully on their own terms: an all-seeing eye who can take some of the daily burden off a manager, someone who fits what they want to do and where they want to go and, most importantly, can steer them that way.

It could be integral to a new power structure, and give us a feel for how Carlisle, with their current top-level uncertainty, think they can grow. Should a higher vision ever form at United, it would be an interesting area to ponder anew.

In the meantime, the man they’ve got directing the football today does seem to have things covered. United’s future is back in Simpson’s hands and, for the time being, that feels like the safest place for it.