Director of football David Holdsworth says Steven Pressley will be under no illusions that things must improve at Carlisle United.

Holdsworth would not be drawn on whether the manager’s position was in immediate doubt after a poor run that has left the Blues 20th.

But he said that, while Pressley has been “fully supported” by directors, any judgement on the situation will be made based on “facts”.

Some fans chanted for Pressley’s head in United’s 4-2 defeat to Crewe last weekend.

Holdsworth said: “Any manager, when they’re not getting results, they’re under pressure. That’s at every club.

“He will be angry, he will be annoyed. Only Steven can say whether he feels let down by some of [his players]. I have my thoughts that they are letting him down, because I know how hard he works.

“Steven is a real top guy, he works very hard. I like Steven. He committed himself to Carlisle and we can’t lose track of that. He’s had and will continue to have support from us until, like any board – and this is every club – [we] feel that things can’t go on in the same way.

“Steven will be aware of that and will respect that, because we all have jobs to do.”

Holdsworth says he “fully respects” the views of supporters and that he and fellow directors were not “blind or deaf” to current sentiments. He said he had no complaints at the way fans vented their frustration during the Crewe game.

He added: “There’s an accountability on the pitch, the manager knows that and it’s his responsibility.

“As directors, Andrew [Jenkins, United chairman] and I speak constantly. We have supported Steven and will continue to do so, until the time, if there is a time…but right now that’s private and we’ll discuss our feelings in private.

“We won’t be doing any washing in public. We’ll be professional about it and certainly that’s the way forward.

“Over the years a lot of things have come to light too soon, but Andrew and I will discuss things as I do with Steven all the time. Over the course of this period, he’s gonna find it tough, but he’s had our support.”

He added: “When supporters turn on a manager it’s tough for him, we appreciate that. As a club we have to make a valued assessment, and they’re not assessments you really want to make.

“But we do, because we have a responsibility, an accountability, and supporters must be clear – we’re not daft, we understand their views and I do fully.

“We have to base it on facts, not opinions. There were 4,400 opinions at the weeks, and a lot of them were having a go at Steven. He’s got broad shoulders, he’s a respectful man, and so am I. But we do have a job, and understand we want to take this club forward, that’s the bottom line.”

Holdsworth was speaking before United’s Trophy game against Blackpool at Brunton Park.

Further scrutiny will come when they return to league action at Plymouth on Saturday.

Holdsworth also said certain players have to take “ownership” of some sub-par performances, being particularly critical of Carlisle’s defending, describing some of those in the rearguard as “semi-skimmed”.

He said: “The disappointing fact is that some of those players, senior players, whilst they might be great guys, are not performing up to the standard we would want.

“We’ve got some good young players – we’ve managed to keep hold of Jarrad Branthwaite so far, we’ve brought in Mo Sagaf who’s doing fantastically well for a young man, a real positive.

“Our flair players, at present, haven’t shown us what they’re capable of, only in small moments. [Harry] McKirdy and [Nathan] Thomas should be matchwinners and we would like to get more out of them – Steven would. He likes playing that expansive football and that was what we saw, but that’s not happening.

“Our senior players, and our back five, four, three, whatever you want to call them, are not doing their jobs, and that’s a disappointment. If I was in that position as a player I would go home [after a game like Saturday] and kick the cat, kick the door, because clean sheets are what you pride yourself on.

“Adam Collin has been exemplary [in goal], he really has played his part, and as the captain of the club I can’t put too much onus on him. What’s in front of him at the moment is very semi-skimmed. We’ve got to do better.”

Holdsworth said “yes” when asked if he was concerned about the effect of recent results on crowds at Brunton Park.

Asked how far below expectations the current position of 20th is, he said: “We didn’t expect to be in this position. We would have liked to have been in a far better position.

“I believe that we do have a good squad, who at the moment aren’t doing themselves justice. Our supporters would have expected us to be doing better – I concur with that.

“Without going into tactics, because that’s Steven’s responsibility, you can’t keep shipping goals. Defensive performances are not good enough at present. The Newport game was collectively probably our most solid game; whilst we ended up a defeat I don’t think anybody could argue with the fact that we performed very well defensively, better – we did our jobs.

“But when you lose games it’s for a reason and players at the moment are not taking ownership of their own performance as individuals and as a collective.

“Steven works extremely hard on tactics, and on the training ground they work on all aspects of the game so I’m appreciative of that. But when they take to the field people need to take responsibility, as does the manager – an accountability comes into that. If they’re not accountable as a group and as individuals, then you get defeats.

“Steven’s well aware of that. Right now he won’t be happy where he is, and neither am I. Our supporters, who I think on the whole have been very supportive, showed their frustration on Saturday, which is understandable.”

Holdsworth insisted he and United’s directors were also “accountable” for the situation.

He added: “We’re in a position where we have to look and reflect on where we thought we were going to be. When we appointed Steven to continue the work that he’d done [last season] we had a blueprint of what Steven was going to bring, having considered options, and Steven was given the responsibility based on the facts on what he informed us of how he would like to do things.

“Whilst it was a tough place, because we had 18 players out of contract [in the summer], it was also a clean slate for Steven in his and our recruitment. He was given the opportunity to bring in the type of player that he wanted.

“As a board we could have gone down a different route. We don’t want to change managers every six months, and having had the situation when John Sheridan left [in January] it was quite tough for Steven, because we were in a very good place and suffered injuries, which any club can do, and we narrowly missed out.

“In the summer that was reflected on continuing with Steven and him being able to bring in and give us a way forward in his thinking, and he’s tried to implement that. At the minute Steven will be disappointed in the results because he’s had, quite possibly, a free rein in terms of his recruitment within our means.

“At the moment Steven will be disappointed in some of the players he’s brought in and as a collective, the team – and it is the team, not just about one individual – aren’t performing as well as they should be and that’s why Steven will be under pressure to achieve those standards.”

Some fans have also questioned Holdsworth’s role in light of this season’s poor results.

The director of football responded by saying: “When a club’s not doing very well there’s always people who will look at different views. I respect that.

“The wider picture [is] my responsibility. I’ve said this from day one, a director of football should not interfere with the playing of games, the manager’s pick of players. We review everything and then the manager’s left down to doing what’s called being a football manager.

“If you interfere with a manager’s job, you always get the question ‘who picks the side?’ You see it a million times. All I make sure is the ethics are right, the finance is correct, which has been unstable at this club for a long time. We are now in a far more stable position, which isn’t done by luck, it’s by being careful, in recruitment, in terms of many things, not just football players.

“The responsibility is to make sure things are done correctly, and then you leave the manager to basically do what’s called managing the team. I don’t get involved in that part.

“People will always want to blame somebody, that happens. All I know is this club has got a clearer pathway for the accountability of individuals inside the club.

“We have got a good working format. We can always look to do better. But given the means which we have, we have got a very stable football club.

“On the football side of it, I ask questions, I will have an opinion. I’ve played over 500 games and managed clubs, and seen clubs in difficulty. This club’s not in difficulty right now, which I’m quite proud of. In 16-17 months we’re in a far better place.

“In terms of the football part I don’t want to tell Steven his job because that would be interfering. If he’s got a set of eyes overseeing that things are done correctly, as I have done since under John Sheridan and Steven, we don’t have too many concerns in terms of non-footballing matters.

“We’ve got a far better structure inside our club which I’m very pleased with. But overseeing and being responsible for the team isn’t my role. If supporters want any more clarity than that then come and see me.”

In the summer Holdsworth had said one of Carlisle’s priorities was to improve at set-pieces. The team have, though, conceded several goals from that route this season whilst failing to score from dead-ball situations themselves.

Asked about these flaws, Holdsworth said: “In the summer Steven wanted to bring in a format on the type of principles, the dynamics of his squad, the age of his squad, the height of his squad, that was also around the tactical part, which I’ve seen and observed many times.

“Set plays are a huge part of League Two football and we’re not good enough at it at the moment.

“The staff know that – there’s Steven Pressley [and coaches] Nathan Rooney, Gavin Skelton, Craig Wight, they’ve got a bundle of experience and they’ve got the tools to work with.

“If that’s not working you have to change something, simple.”

Some fans, meanwhile, claimed certain directors, such as co-owner John Nixon, smiled or “smirked” when criticism was voiced from the terraces during Saturday’s defeat.

Asked for his response to this, Holdsworth said: “All I can speak for is myself. I was very angry. I don’t start gesticulating and screaming, but I certainly don’t enjoy hearing the manager being called for, because we work very hard, we’re doing our best to change the club and move the club forward, and every day is an interesting day here.

“I can’t speak for anybody else but I wasn’t very pleased at all.

“There’s a time to reflect on that and the discussion you have with the players and manager has to be timely, because things are raw. I took a few doors off when I was manager and upset a few people.

“My role here is to look at the facts. Even after two days going into tonight’s match, if I was the manager of the team I would be looking at solutions drastically quickly. And I would be talking to my players, and finding out, and looking at reasons why we shipped four goals, who wasn’t in their right place.

“There’s a degree of being pragmatic as a manager. Maybe sometimes [you have to] think outside the box, because at the moment there’s players at the moment in that side that don’t warrant a Carlisle shirt reflecting on their performance.

“Those are facts, not my opinion. These stats in front of us don’t lie. Shipping as many goals as we do, it’s collective, from the front to the back, and that’s a responsibility.”

Pressley has recently insisted things were moving in the right direction and players were improving - despite Carlisle’s fifth-bottom position.

Holdsworth said this applied only with “some” individuals.

He added: “I think Jack Bridge has been very good. [Mike] Jonesy has always given a seven or eight out of 10. We knew that when we kept him on.

“Adam Collin has been steady. Sagaf has been a very good recruit, we’re pleased with him. Olufela [Olomola] has been outstanding.

“There’s more to come from loan players certainly, but they’ve not been used as probably they would like. [Elias] Sorensen, [Ryan] Loft, [Canice] Carroll – they’re all players Steven wanted to bring in and we got them in for him.

“[Jack] Iredale and [Christie] Elliott, they’re both really good lads – we’ve got a good dressing room in terms of that, mostly, and there’s more to come from those I would say.

“There can be improvement, definitely. The facts don’t lie. We are where we are for a reason.”