Paul Simpson admitted he was “absolutely gutted” by Carlisle United’s relegation and that the entire season has been a “let-down”.

The Blues’ League One demise was confirmed by a 2-0 defeat at Northampton Town on Saturday.

It means an immediate return to the fourth tier less than 11 months after their play-off success last term.

Manager Simpson said everyone involved has “fallen short” over the course of the campaign.

But he reiterated his determination to be the man who oversees a turnaround.

“I have to accept that it’s been a let-down,” the Blues manager told the News & Star.

“I don’t honestly think we were ready as a football club, and in turn as a football team, to go up.

“But you can’t ever turn down opportunities like that, and when it comes to you, you have to try and go and grab it with both hands.

“Unfortunately we haven’t done it. If I get the blame for that I have to accept that. I can’t do anything about people’s opinions.

“I’ve got a clear enough conscience to know I believe I’ve done everything I possibly could do try and keep us in League One this season.

News and Star: Captain Sam Lavelle reacts after United's relegation is confirmed at NorthamptonCaptain Sam Lavelle reacts after United's relegation is confirmed at Northampton (Image: Richard Parkes)

“Unfortunately me, the staff and the group of players – we’ve all fallen short and we’ve got to make sure we learn from it and we’re better for it.”

United’s 27th defeat from 42 games confirmed something which has long been coming, Northampton scoring in both halves to seal the Cumbrians’ fate.

As in most of those games, Carlisle did not do enough to change the outcome and must now prepare for life back in the basement division.

“I’m absolutely gutted,” added Simpson.

“It certainly wasn’t what I expected when we won that play-off final [last May]. I knew it was going to be a tough season but I didn’t think or expect it was going to be as a tough as this.

“We’ve certainly been found short in lots of areas, and although I do believe the signings we made in January are good for the future of the football club, the results haven’t reflected that.

“We’ve just got to make sure the signings we add in the summer help the ones who are going to be here, and we have a squad that’s capable of having a proper push to come straight back up which is what everybody wants.”

Simpson, who has been backed by United’s owners, the Piataks, despite the team’s dismal results this season, stressed his determination to fight on in the job and oversee the improvements the Blues need.

News and Star: Paul Simpson applauds United's fans at NorthamptonPaul Simpson applauds United's fans at Northampton (Image: Richard Parkes)

“There’s not even a question about that,” he said.

“Since the Piataks came into the club I’ve been doing more than just a manager’s job to try and help in addressing all the issues that need to be resolved in the football club, because there are a lot of things that need to be improved.

“Unfortunately, in my opinion the club has gone backwards since 2006, from when I left, since I came back in.

“Now we have the opportunity with investment to make this football club better.

“I want to be a part of it, and hopefully I will be.”

United, despite a reasonable start at the Sixfields Stadium, never looked like turning things around after Kieron Bowie’s opener for Northampton, and then sub Ali Koiki made it 2-0 with the final kick of the game.

“It’s been the story of our season, that we’ve not had enough to be able to go and finish things off,” added Simpson.

“We’ve created some OK chances, not clear-cut chances, but chances we weren’t able to go and finish, then you get done by a sucker punch – by which I mean the first goal.

“The second one, we were just throwing bodies into the box to try and get something.

“It’s been the story of our season and the league table doesn’t lie.”

Simpson said a considerable rebuilding job now lay ahead in the summer as United look to recover in League Two.

News and Star: Carlisle fans look downcast as the Blues are relegated at NorthamptonCarlisle fans look downcast as the Blues are relegated at Northampton (Image: Richard Parkes)

“I think it’s a big job. Because when you get relegated you’ve obviously got the negativity that goes with that – the negativity feeling outside, the negativity coming from the outside, and you have to try and keep calm about it, and keep a clear head to make sure you make the right decisions,” he added.

“That’s what I’m hoping my experience will allow me to do, [along with] the experience of other people around, the backing from the owners, and it’s a case of rolling our sleeves up and working smartly over the next few months.”

Simpson admitted United’s loyal fans, who have backed the Blues in superb numbers all season, deserved much more than they have received from the team this campaign.

Some 335 made the trip to Northampton to watch the last rites delivered.

“We desperately wanted to [give them more],” added the manager. “We’ve been trying all season, and they have backed us all season in what has been a hugely frustrating season for them.

“All I hope is that there are better times ahead.”