Carlisle United’s chief executive has shed light on the different ways the Blues have appointed managers in recent seasons.

And Nigel Clibbens’ comments included the claim that he did not know Chris Beech was being hired until the day he arrived.

The revelation that such a senior director at Brunton Park was unaware of a managerial decision highlights some of the different influences at play at the club over the years.

Beech, Clibbens said, was an appointment led by former director of football David Holdsworth in 2019.

Other appointments have been made by panels of club directors, with Clibbens stressing that United chiefs took responsibility for those that did not work.

He also explained the circumstances in which Paul Simpson was approached by the club in February – and spoke of his excitement at United’s future under the Cumbrian.

At a fans’ forum, United were challenged by supporters to explain who took responsibility for the series of managerial decisions since the departure of Keith Curle in 2018.

News and Star: Nigel Clibbens commented on managerial appointments (photo: Barbara Abbott)Nigel Clibbens commented on managerial appointments (photo: Barbara Abbott)

John Sheridan was appointed by a panel [of directors],” Clibbens said.

“When John left, we were doing well. We’d had a really strange season in that John had fallen out with a number of key players and we had the shenanigans that went on behind the scenes…

“John left to another club [Chesterfield] and we got compensation.

Steven Pressley was a panel decision. It didn’t work for Steven. No-one will thank me for saying this, but in my view he walked into a really difficult situation, when we were slashing the budget down and signing players on short-term deals, and fishing right at the bottom of the pond.

“He had to recruit a lot of players really quickly, and then it didn’t work, and results were poor.

“After that, Chris Beech was a direct appointment. I certainly didn’t know Chris was coming until the day he arrived in the club.

“I walked into a room and he was sat at the boardroom table. That was one David [Holdsworth] did as far as I was concerned.

News and Star: Nigel Clibbens says he was unaware of Chris Beech's appointment until he was at the club, and said his appointment was a decision by David Holdsworth (photo: Barbara Abbott)Nigel Clibbens says he was unaware of Chris Beech's appointment until he was at the club, and said his appointment was a decision by David Holdsworth (photo: Barbara Abbott)

“After that, Keith Millen was a panel appointment, where we were given a shortlist which had been put together.

“It’s a matter of record [that] David said in the press, ‘I’ve got someone in mind’. From a shortlist, we picked Keith.

“Keith didn’t work out but I still think given the shortlist of the people we had in front of us, Keith was the best choice at the time.”

Millen lasted just four months at the helm in the middle of the 2021/22 campaign, before being sacked on February 23 – the day Holdsworth also left and Simpson returned.

Clibbens was twice pressed by fans on who compiled the shortlist on which Millen was apparently the best contender.

Eventually he confirmed: “David put the shortlist together, we picked the manager and we all take responsibility for it.

“I voted for Keith, as the best person on the panel in front of us, and I still stand by that now, even though it didn’t work.”

Clibbens said that, after boardroom discussion around Millen’s removal, thoughts quickly turned to Simpson.

“In terms of Paul Simpson, we sat in the room, the decision was made to change manager, we looked at options and I said to John [Nixon, co-owner], ‘You’d better ring Paul’..."

Nixon said his initial call to Simpson went to voicemail - but was relieved when the Cumbrian called back a few minutes later, going on to agree to a return to Brunton Park.

“All [the manager decisions] were different ways, trying to get the best outcome for the club. Some work, some don’t," Clibbens added.

“We’ve had 15 good games with Paul and hopefully it continues.”

Clibbens spoke of the sudden and dramatic change Simpson inspired, as he transformed Carlisle’s fortunes and re-energised fans, whilst leading the Blues to League Two safety.

“He’s changed everything, from the first day,” the director said.

“When I went to Leyton Orient that Saturday [for Simpson’s first game], and I was in the pub with the fans, the mood had changed.

News and Star: There was an immediate change from Paul Simpson's first game in charge, Nigel Clibbens says (photo: Richard Parkes)There was an immediate change from Paul Simpson's first game in charge, Nigel Clibbens says (photo: Richard Parkes)

“When I was walking from the pub to the ground, it had changed. There was a trust, a belief and pride back in the club, from absolutely nowhere; a very dark place.

“And when we scored after five minutes, it was, ‘Can I have some of that magic dust that guy’s carrying around with him?’

“It’s been a remarkable end to the season.”

Clibbens told the forum that it was time to look forward and focus on Simpson’s bid to lead Carlisle to better times.

“I’ve sat here before and said there’s no forgiving or forgetting in this place,” he told the audience towards the end of the the 90-minute forum. “Every time I come to these things it reinforces that – we’ve spent as much time talking about Keith Curle [United's manager from 2014-18] as the future.

“It is a bit mad. But it’s all about the future and taking the opportunity we have, getting behind Paul, putting the other nonsense to one side for a bit and seeing where it can take us.

“It’s about winning football matches, getting up the division and celebrating stuff.

“There are plenty of pictures up here from the club doing well and achieving stuff. It’s about time we did it again and we’ve got someone we think can do it for us.

“I can’t wait.”

READ MORE: Carlisle United owners: budget is highest "for years" as we back Paul Simpson