Paul Simpson has spoken passionately about his ambition to unlock Carlisle United’s potential - and build the club for as long as he can.

The Blues manager is starting the next stage of his rebuild after making decisions on players and key backroom appointments.

And Simpson has also spoken of his wish to remain at Brunton Park for as long as possible to help the club back to better times.

The Cumbrian returned to the club in February and guided United to safety before signing a new three-year deal.

Speaking at the end-of-season awards dinner on Sunday night, Simpson said: “What’s really made this an attractive challenge for me is in this ten-and-a-half weeks, the first thing I’ve realised this is a club that can achieve so much more.

News and Star: Paul Simpson and wife Jacqui at the awards dinnerPaul Simpson and wife Jacqui at the awards dinner

“I don’t know what ‘much more’ means, but I think it’s a club that is waiting to be guided, not just by me – by the board, Nigel [Clibbens, chief executive], the staff.

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“I am really privileged to be given the opportunity to come and guide it. I just hope I don’t disappoint.

“People talk about three-year contracts – I’m not looking at that. I’m looking at building this football club for as long as I possibly can, and being in this area, back in my home city.”

Simpson’s words were rapturously received by the audience in the Halston at the event which came a day after the last game of the season.

The 55-year-old also revealed some contacts in the game had advised him not to take on the challenge of trying to steer United away from trouble.

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“It’s fairly clear there are some issues in this football club, there have been some issues in this club,” Simpson added.

News and Star: Simpson chats to co-owner Steven Pattison at the awards eveningSimpson chats to co-owner Steven Pattison at the awards evening

“If I go back to February 22, when I got the phonecall from John Nixon to say, ‘Will you come and help me?’ – I was sitting in the lounge watching Bristol City play on television, I just said yes, I would. Firstly I thank [my wife] Jacqui for not persuading me not to do it…

“I didn’t really know what to expect. The first thing I did was go on Wyscout to watch some footage, and I thought, ‘They’re not bad, some of these lads’.

“I spoke to a lot of people and they said, ‘Don’t do that, don’t go in there’. They weren’t particularly complimentary about things on and off the grass.

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“But I’ve got to say, when I came into it, I was really pleasantly surprised.”

Simpson said the players had been “absolutely fantastic” over the 15-game run-in.

News and Star: Simpson said players had been "absolutely fantastic" since he took chargeSimpson said players had been "absolutely fantastic" since he took charge

“I asked them to be the best pros they could be for 15 games. I can only thank them for that,” he said.

“We’ve taken 25 points from 15 games. If you equate that over the season that’s 77 points. One more win could have been play-offs. That’s the form they were in.”

He also described the “positive” impact of backroom staff recruits Paul Gerrard and Geoff Haugh, adding: “One thing I learned a long time ago is it’s not about me, it’s about having good people around me, good staff – it’s not possible to do it in your own.

“The staff have so much loyalty and passion towards this club – they’ve played a massive part in it.

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“I think it’s a club where we’ve united the fans again. They were a little bit flat before. Now the challenge is not to rest on what we’ve done but keep that fire burning, keep building and make the club better.

“To have 1,700 fans at Bradford in a dead rubber of a What could we achieve, how many more can we get in?”

The manager thanked fans for the “incredible welcome” since he returned to the club.

And he added: “Stay with us, keep bringing that positive vibe, back us and join us on what I hope is a really good journey for everybody involved in the football club.

“Let’s see where it takes us.”

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