Darren Edmondson was always a hardened player and, as a manager and coach, has experienced plenty in a volatile game. Football can, though, still deliver a punch and the weeks after Edmondson’s removal as Carlisle United’s academy manager this summer were challenging.

“It is difficult,” he says. “That question, ‘what next?’, goes on for a long time. You doubt yourself. You reflect on what you could have done better. You then cast blame on yourself. Too much of that makes you negative. Day one turns into day 27 turns into day 40…”

It was, in the end, two-and-a-half months before Edmondson found another opportunity, as head of academy coaching at Rochdale. Earlier, he had considered leaving football.

“I applied for teaching jobs, jobs at Sellafield, because at some point, you need to be in work and earning money for your family,” he says. “That’s the most important thing – to provide.

“As a player, I always reflected on every game, positively or negatively, and that’s been the same in coaching. Each time you get a big shock, you do it even more. If you let it spiral, that’s when you start to sink. I know managers who’ve been out of work a long time and they’ve taken to drink, or suffered depression. These are hardened football people of 40 years in the game and they don’t know anything else.”

Edmondson says he was “down some weeks, positive in others” during his time between posts but says his family and close friends kept him upbeat. He was “absolutely” serious about looking at non-football jobs but was also wary of his “mind playing tricks” and telling him that a more regular nine-to-five existence would be to his liking.

Football, he says, is fantastic in good times, “but in the bad times you see real people. There’s a lot of false people in football. It’s an environment full of them.

“It can be coaches or players, saying yes when they need to and no when they need to, just to get where they want to be. I was never brought up like that. It’s not something I do.”

How closely we can connect any of these thoughts to his three years as United’s youth supremo is impossible to say. Edmondson does not wish to talk about this period with the club and nor does he comment on why it ended.

Carlisle, similarly, have not gone public with their reasons since things came to a head in early June. Whatever the feelings on either side, it feels like a rather sad ending bearing in mind the 47-year-old Cumbrian’s long connection with the Blues, first as a combative and popular player in successful times in the 1990s, and since 2016, their senior academy figure.

Edmondson’s time at the top of the club’s youth set-up included United’s progress further into the Elite Player Performance Plan era as a Category Three academy. Some of the players he worked with have already gone beyond the Blues – Liam McCarron and Josh Galloway, both recently sold to Leeds – while others, such as Jarrad Branthwaite and Taylor Charters, are around the current first-team squad.

Before then, graduates from Edmondson’s academy included Cameron Salkeld, Jordan Holt, Sam Adewusi and Jack Egan, players who had differing experiences from short first-team careers.

Edmondson often pushed these teenagers’ cases and it is probably fair to assume he wishes more chances had come their way. Supporters will have their own views while United’s motivation for ending his tenure, and replacing him with Eric Kinder this summer, may never get a full airing (confidentiality agreements often accompany such exits; their existence here has not been confirmed).

He only speaks generally about what he has taken from his time with United. He believes the process of EPPP has carried too many administrative demands and those in charge of the system are finally coming round to clubs’ point of view.

In which areas? “The reviewing of every player, every session, every day. When you don’t have full-time staff all the time, it’s too much work in front of them, rather than the basics – getting young players on the field, coaching properly, making them better.

“It will be easier for coaches to do their jobs now there’s less of that. Yes, we all need to be accountable, but the process was becoming too much.”

Like many in football who are pitched into sudden uncertainty, Edmondson says he did not enjoy the time when his “phone stopped ringing…you’re not important any more and the game doesn’t contact you.” Did he worry about how his United departure might be perceived, given the lack of public detail? “Well, you do want to know how everyone else is thinking when it’s in the paper or on the TV, but I suppose other managers get the sack and get another job. It’s part and parcel of it.

“It’s about taking stock and saying to your next employer, ‘I’ve learned from this, I know this now.’ Experience gets you through that. You do want to come out and give the whys and wherefores, but I prefer to say that door’s closed and let’s move on."

He has, unsurprisingly, felt happier since Rochdale approached him. The call was made by the League One club’s academy manager Tony Ellis, the former Preston and Blackpool striker with whom Edmondson battled in his playing days. “He swung some elbows at me and I tried to get involved too,” he laughs.

The two men had developed a rapport while on an academy manager’s course last year. “When he called, he said he wanted like-minded people in his academy,” Edmondson says. “He expressed that to me, we chatted, and he offered me the job.”

The particular role, which at Carlisle is held by the long-serving David Wilkes, requires Edmondson to mentor and develop other coaches at Spotland. It is a step back from the front line of working with players but Edmondson says: “I like being on the grass, having those day-to-day dealings with players, but I felt this would be another string, something different.”

Edmondson says Rochdale are investing heavily in their academy and, from first-team boss Brian Barry-Murphy down, trying to ingrain a particular style of play. Edmondson will be involved in ensuring this is attempted at all levels at the club.

Edmondson has also managed, with Barrow and Workington. Does he see a long-term future away from the dugout, or is this a shorter employment fix? “If you don’t set out in a job to go at it 100 per cent, or go in with an agenda, people will see through that,” he says. “At this moment in time, I’m focused on an interesting new role.

“People who work in youth football aren’t particularly in it for the ego. They like developing young players and seeing the benefits of that. It’s also about working for people you respect and want to work for.

“You learn all the time. You see different ideas, opinions, ways to look at things. If I become good at this role, it might take me up a ladder in coach mentoring. If it’s not for me, it might be a case of getting back on the grass. It’s up to me to work at it and give it everything.”

Edmondson says, broadly, that the aspects he learned most at Carlisle concerned “the need to keep to a tight ship, work to budgets, make sure coaches are pulling in the right direction”, even though, like all youth bosses, he would always be judged on the players he produced.

There appears much that cannot, or will not, be said, but Edmondson says he prefers it this way. On his new post, he adds: “You feel alive again, thinking ‘What am I doing tomorrow?’, the planning…you get away from the loneliness.

“Other than to learn from your experiences, there’s no point looking back. That’s gone, move on, new chapter, new door. You have to grasp that and look forward.”