In the warm and familiar surrounds of Carlisle United’s Sunset Suite, it was possible to detect war breaking out. Or, at least, a little skirmish. 

The past versus the future. Do we look back, or forward? Normally the answer tells you a lot about where your football club is and where it’s been. 

So it was at Brunton Park, where on Tuesday evening there appeared a fine balance. “There’s no forgiving or forgetting in this place,” said a wryly-smiling Nigel Clibbens, at the end of a fans’ forum when the last four years had received a thorough going-over. 

The chief executive, after all the revisiting of long-gone events, wanted most of all to look ahead. This was, he said, United’s best chance of “doing something” in his six years at the club. “It’s all about the future and taking the opportunity we have, getting behind Paul [Simpson], putting the other nonsense to one side for a bit and seeing where it can take us.” 

Clibbens, as he does, had by then tackled pretty much every question on Carlisle United’s recent past in fair detail. The only real ripple of frustration had been audible when he was pushed on who, exactly, had compiled the shortlist from which Keith Millen had been chosen last October. 

News and Star: Directors at this week's forum (image: Carlisle United YouTube)Directors at this week's forum (image: Carlisle United YouTube)

A second bite from the audience got the answer (David Holdsworth). On most else, the information was freely forthcoming and the tone relatively generous. 

And that desire for us all to leave the “nonsense” aside and look to the future: what else is a director supposed to say, and wish for? Clibbens is right – only by getting four-square behind Simpson and his hint at new beginnings can Carlisle make the absolute most of them. 

As for those who wanted to get stuck into the old detail of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill years, the Holdsworth legacy, the previous managerial appointments, the long-standing debt issues, the mixed influences over all this time? 

They are absolutely right too. Indeed, it’s fair to suggest that you can’t have one without the other. Without supporters taking the chance to dig into all those matters, certain things would remain matters of conjecture and second-guessing. 

In the mind’s eye, aspects would stay questionably unresolved. A few clouds of doubt would remain in the new world of Simmo-inspired opportunity.

It was, it seemed to me, less a case of being reluctant to “forgive or forget” on Tuesday night and more a matter of getting to the nub of a few agenda items which, whilst long assumed, had not been placed on the record over all this time that United have been bobbing around in various states of uncertainty and under-achievement.

This is, in one sense, a legacy of some people at the top of Brunton Park being in a state of almost complete withdrawal when it comes to interviews or similar exposure to scrutiny these days. Clibbens puts himself in front of supporter groups every month but the Holdings board do not.

News and Star: Steven Pattison, right, with David Holdsworth (photo: Richard Parkes)Steven Pattison, right, with David Holdsworth (photo: Richard Parkes)

Nor is there ever an opportunity, any more, for the media to assess the mettle of United’s owners. Hence, as the months go by, a good many questions back up. By the time forums come around, a large pile of them exists. 

For example: at no point, over the years, had we had it as bluntly as we received it on Tuesday night regarding Carlisle's appointment of a director of football in 2018. Most fans’ theories will have been largely aligned but only this week did we hear from a senior director (Steven Pattison) that the move had been designed to “appease” a would-be owner (EWM). 

This may not have surprised anyone listening but its appearance in unvarnished terms was important. It showed who was pulling certain chains and how. Likewise when Clibbens himself walked fans through the varying processes of appointing their recent string of managers. 

This in itself was a fascinating window onto the dysfunctional nature of Carlisle United 2018-2022 and the different pulls and pushes behind the scenes, bearing in mind that, in autumn 2019, the club was able to appoint one head coach (Chris Beech) without the chief executive even knowing about it. 

Again – people will have sensed what was afoot at the time, but only now, through Clibbens’ candour, have they had it straight.

The arrival of Simpson, quite clearly, has given those up the chain the comfort to pull away the veil on certain fading aspects of Brunton Park life. There was an air of that as the likes of Pattison opened his shoulders on Tuesday and Clibbens spoke freer than perhaps even he has before.

News and Star: Details about the appointment of Chris Beech were revealed at the forum (photo: Richard Parkes)Details about the appointment of Chris Beech were revealed at the forum (photo: Richard Parkes)

All this may, as we look at Simpson’s clean slate and Pattison’s ice cream van this summer, indeed appear fluff and "nonsense", irrelevances of the past. 

It’s easier to regard it that way, though, when it’s brought more cleanly to the fore, out of the world of nudges and whispers and no-comments and unavailables. 

Bearing in mind United’s debt, and whom it is owed to, it helps very much to have the clearest picture possible. In terms of moving on, surely the best chance of doing that comes when you have the most vivid and unblocked picture of what you’re moving on from.

In the Sunset Suite, certain things did, at last, come into the light. In that respect, those inspecting the past and the chief executive inviting them into the future should really be thanking each other.

READ MORE: Carlisle United chiefs reveal how they appointed their last five managers