In a more open and obvious way than I can remember for a long time, fans were coming over to the press box during Saturday’s game at Brunton Park, voicing their opinions on the team, the manager, the board and the state of the club.

There was a hell of a lot of anger. We have seen apathy for a long time, where things have seemed just to be accepted, but there seemed to be a turning point this time.

Even supporters who we talk to week-in, week-out were looking for someone to vent towards, someone who they could ask to make sense of everything that’s going on.

They just couldn’t believe what they were seeing. As much as Crewe have some nice footballers and play some nice stuff, from a Carlisle perspective the fears, thoughts and worries people have had for a few weeks now seemed to come to a head in that performance.

Whether it was tactical concerns, opinions about players, whatever – everything that could have gone wrong did, apart from a 10-minute spell in the second half when Carlisle brought it back to 2-2.

Having suddenly got yourselves back into a game, you can’t then go and concede another two the way they did.

You don’t want to see players and manager getting abuse. But people were only ever going to feel extremely frustrated with what they saw. It was one of those days where you walk away, go home and feel absolutely deflated.

The way Carlisle conceded was telling. We have heard praise from players and management about certain aspects over recent weeks but I never really got on board with a lot of that.

That’s because you could still see the frailties. Even when clean sheets were kept, you could still see certain things under the surface.

Fair enough – Carlisle’s performance at Newport was, for the large part, ok. We built that display up on the radio, and on Saturday were accused of building it up too much and conning people by saying ‘Get to the ground and watch this team, we think they have turned a corner.’

That, though, was the only occasion where I felt United genuinely looked stronger. They didn’t at Scunthorpe despite winning there, and they didn’t necessarily against Forest Green or Oldham, when they also kept clean sheets and took four points.

You never felt the tendency to leak goals had been completely removed and Saturday proved that to be the case.

The goals were just so basic. I thought Crewe’s second might have drawn some praise for the way Daniel Powell went through and finished it, but no-one said that. There was more focus on how Jack Bridge lost the ball in a silly area, and what looked like a defence-splitting pass was still far too straightforward for the Crewe player to execute.

Powell went clear as United stood off and then just put his laces through the ball to send it past Adam Collin. It looked quite good on the eye but even the Crewe contingent themselves weren’t saying it was a fantastic goal.

At Newport, Carlisle did some of the basics well in how they defended. This time the basics let them down. In the defensive wall, Mo Sagaf moved out of the way of the ball as the free-kick came in, and you can see certain moments when League Two football catches up with a few people.

The standard may be poor at times. But if you’re not at it, there are still players and teams in there that can punish you.

When people turn as many now have, it becomes harder to change views. Even a couple of wins now might not be enough for some.

All the players can do is roll their sleeves up. I’ve never been a manager but I remember a few in my time going back to basics in times of difficulty.

There were periods under people like John Ward where we were up against it, and instead of using certain plans, formations and so on, the manager just put everyone in their favourite position as a 4-4-2 and challenged the opposition to break us down.

The flipside to doing that, if Steven Pressley was to take that approach, is that he would be accused of admitting that his systems haven’t worked, contrary to what he has said previously.

That is the peril of being honest in interviews, which we always want but in the age of social media now the scrutiny is non-stop, and managers today find themselves being pulled up on every word.

Pressley says he doesn’t read papers, forums or listen to radio coverage and that’s good. It means his mind isn’t affected by everything that gets said.

That doesn’t mean, though, that the bones won’t be picked out of every bad day and every defeat, especially when they come as Saturday’s did.

I’m not sure tonight’s game against Blackpool in the Trophy is one where people can be drawing many real conclusions.

I would, though, play the team I had in mind for Plymouth in the next league game. Blackpool might rest a few, and you could see it as a chance for your first team to get a win under their belts.

A victory is a victory no matter the competition. It breeds confidence. Suddenly United could be going to Plymouth feeling a little better about life.

If I was a senior player, I’d be asking to play tonight.


Sometimes it’s easy to shy away from certain things and play down issues that aren’t ideal but Steven Pressley was again very open about the situation with Nathan Thomas at the weekend.

He spoke about the fact Thomas had apparently refused to do some extra training.

In my experience things like this happen more often than ever gets reported.

Thomas had a bit of a turbulent summer, his parent club Sheffield United going up into the Premier League but Nathan himself not really being involved.

Then came a loan move to Gillingham which is a hell of a long way from home. He got down there and, for whatever reason, didn’t settle.

He then came back to Carlisle and started the season really well.

By all accounts he has held his hands up for what happened in training last Thursday and as manager and player you have to move on from that.

I’ve been in many dressing rooms where the nicest of lads and best pros have argued with the manager. The next day it’s settled with a handshake and everyone just gets on with things.

It’s not a major issue for me. Frustration builds in every player at different times and there are moments you can understand that more than others.

For all concerned it’s vital Carlisle get the best out of Thomas. I have always felt him to be a very, very good player if he is used in the right way.

He has found himself singled out in the media once or twice recently. Things like his recovery runs and “data” have been highlighted.

The question is are you getting the best out of Nathan Thomas when you are talking about those aspects of the game?

If the rest of the team are playing well, he will be required to do less of those recovery runs or fill in gaps.

The only data I want to see concerning Thomas is about what he is doing in and around the opposition box, creating and scoring goals.

If you are on the back foot, then of course you do have to defend, and from Pressley’s point of view, he does make his wishes clear when he signs a player. Nobody agreeing to join can later turn around and say they don’t know what to expect.