There is no point in beating around the bush here. Saturday at Brunton Park was very depressing.

Rightly or wrongly, the Carlisle supporters usually applaud their team no matter what is happening. We’ve all seen the team clapped off after heavy defeats before.

The 3-1 defeat to Exeter, though, was the first time I can remember experiencing so much silence. Usually when you go in after 45 minutes trailing, there are a few boos but then the applause comes.

This time, it was boos and silence, other than when Adam Collin came towards the tunnel - the same at full-time.

They did, though, applaud Exeter, which shows the class the Carlisle supporters have got. They always show their appreciation towards a good team who have come to town and impressed.

Exeter were certainly a decent side. There is no denying that.

From a Carlisle point of view, though, it was worrying. We’ve been saying for years that there’s just something not right and, even worse, a sense of acceptance when things aren’t going to plan.

You don’t hear people kicking off and creating a fuss. Nobody is kicking and screaming. They are just not coming back.

To have under 4,000 home supporters on a lovely September day should ring alarm bells with whoever is calling the shots.

That is another point: too many people feel they don’t know who is in charge, who is running the show, while there isn’t a sense that fans’ trust CUOSC will stand up and speak out too loudly about the situation.

After a day like that, though, everyone should be having a look at themselves.

I hope, faced with this criticism, nobody would come back with comments like: “Be thankful we are not like Bury”, or “be grateful we are not in the bottom two”.

That’s not any kind of benchmark for success.

With the players and the experience Carlisle have got, I don’t care whether the budget has been reduced or not – they should be around 10th, not down in 19th.

Other clubs have shown the way. Yes, Newport gained some football fortune with cup runs last season but they have not always had money behind them, yet they have been up there and challenging.

Cheltenham are punching above their weight. Even Macclesfield, where players haven’t been paid, have picked up some good results.

Steven Pressley said he didn’t get nearly enough out of his players on Saturday. He put a team out that should have been able to compete with Exeter, yet if it wasn’t for Collin the visitors would have had five or six.

After that, a player should walk in to training with his bottom lip on the ground. His body language should reflect how angry he is.

It shouldn’t stay like that for long, but initially you want to see how much it hurts. You want to see that they’ve had a weekend where it has chewed them up: not wanting to talk to people, having a few arguments, being in a mood, and desperate to get back in and sort it out.

Then, when training starts, you want to see them kicking each other. As a player it is time to stop being mates, and to make sure you are on the team sheet next weekend.

Players who haven’t featured much so far also have to look at the situation and think, ‘I’ve got a chance to play now. I know he’s my mate, but he’s got my place. If it means falling out, so what. In five years we won’t be at the same club, and he won’t be paying my mortgage.’

Show some fight. Let Pressley stand on his gantry overlooking the training ground without having to say anything, because the lads are showing that kind of response.

I don’t want to hear anyone talking about how well they have trained this week. All I care about is that on Saturday at Stevenage they are fired up.

Pressley has backed his players in many interviews. He said on Saturday that he likes the group. He has even suggested they are the best group he has worked with. He also, though, named a few individuals who he felt hadn’t worked hard enough against Exeter.

Whatever they make of both points of view, players have to be completely selfish now. Their job is on the pitch, and if eight or nine do it properly at Stevenage, they win the game.

Carlisle simply need to take something there. The league is already taking shape and Saturday suggested that United are going to find it hard to beat the top teams if they are on their game.

There will be mini-leagues, though, and after getting that 1-0 win at Scunthorpe, an away game against Stevenage comes into that category.

It should be winnable, and coming away with three points will keep Stevenage down there for another six weeks.

Don’t be the team that goes there, rolls over, and gives them the chance of their first win of the season.

Get beaten, and Carlisle will be in deeper trouble. Again, let’s not tiptoe around that.

The manager will be looking at this as a sort of cup final and the players have to view it that way too.

Supporters were drawing some very critical conclusions at full-time on Saturday, and Carlisle simply have to give them something better.


Mo Sagaf was a rare bright spot for Carlisle on Saturday. He was, at least, trying to get the team on the front foot.

Yes, there were times when he gave the ball away, but that came through him attempting to be positive and to do the right things, and you don’t mind that.

It’s the same when Nathan Thomas and Harry McKirdy are taking people on, or Olufela Olomola is shooting from distance. There is no shame in failing if you are trying and trying.

It is when players get the ball and their first reaction is to go backwards that it frustrates you.

I understood Steven Pressley’s thinking in using Sagaf to try and disrupt Exeter’s attempts to fly down their right side on Saturday.

McKirdy is a more attacking player but as a midfielder Sagaf has more defensive qualities; someone you can ask to do that job and then bring McKirdy on when the game has opened up.

It might not have been a roaring success but he did ok in that job - although was much better when switched into midfield in the second half.

Sagaf seems to have a bit more about him than some of the academy lads you see coming down from bigger clubs.

He seems ahead of certain individuals tactically; even older lads. You can tell he has played at a non-league level that has done him the world of good.

I feel he has done enough to keep his place at Stevenage, even though that is going to be a different game. He might not get the ball as much, or the same opportunities to pass.

It might be an afternoon to roll your sleeves up first, but at least Sagaf looks up for that side of things as well.

He is still only 21 and there will always be inconsistency with a player of that age.

But he has shown enough to encourage people and I hope he continues to develop well.