It is that time in the season when owners, fans and indeed managers start to take stock of how they have started the new campaign. Nathan Ridley, our Carlisle United Correspondent, gives you his take on the start the Cumbrians have made in League Two…
It’s now 10 games into the League 2 season; and for Carlisle United, it’s been an up & down time. With 11 points thus far, Keith Curle has been under pressure. Sitting 17th in the table, there’s work to be done if something significant is going to come out of the season.
Both ironically and coincidentally, the tenth game of the season summed the Cumbrians up perfectly. A 0-2 midweek home defeat following a 0-5 weekend away win optimised just how unreliable at team has been this season. With 16 goals conceded and 14 goals scored, it doesn’t seem too bad but there truly been a spark lacking at the club ever since the agonisingly Play-off semi-final last season. The blues may not have had the rub of the green at times or decisions to their way but ultimately, that’s just something that has to be dealt with.
Even if it was a typical start, losing at home 1-2 against Swindon Town in the opening game, Carlisle had some decent early form. With a win over Fleetwood Town in the Carabao Cup, it gave them the opportunity for a financially prosperous draw at home to Sunderland. That was able to inject some much needed confidence into the club and it showed when two successive convincing wins away against Cambridge United and home Cheltenham Town. Although, league form has fellen apart since then. Just the one win and two draws have come in the following 7 league games. A win in the Checkatrade Trophy was sandwiched in but it wasn’t exactly too much of a confidence booster. Thrashed at Lincoln City & Accrington Stanley, and struggling to win at home meant Curle had split the fan base as to if he should be manager for much longer. Then when he scraped a draw courtesy of a wonder goal at home to Barnet, they team travelled to Crewe Alexandra and pulled out all the stops to gain a victory and well & truly hammer their opponents in that 5-0 win.
The squad haven’t failed too badly. The goalkeeper situation is one not to be desired, going from a constant first choice man between the posts for the last 5 seasons to two loanees who have both made mistakes. Jack Bonham & Shamal George will likely continue to be rotated until there’s a clear favourite but with the Brentford man being very different to the Liverpool, and vice versa; consistency at the back will be a struggle. The full-back spots have been sound thus far in defence. James Brown on loan from Millwall, Tom Miller and Danny Grainger have also provided going forward with a number goals & assists between them. Gary Liddle was firstly tried at centre-back with the so far solid Tom Parkes, then Mark Ellis had the chance before Clint Hill arrived in style recently and his leadership & experience have been enough for him to get a place. In midfield, Jason Kennedy, John O’Sullivan & Samir Nabi have been ruled out with injuries. Mike Jones has begun to rediscover top form following a tricky start. Luke Joyce & Nicky Adams have been reliable, and Reggie Lambe has proved goals & assists more than anyone else in the squad. Jamie Devitt still awaits a run in the side, to most of the fans’ frustration. Hallam Hope & Shaun Miller have gotten goals but not a consistent run in the team as of yet. ‘Lucrative’ August addition Richie Bennett has been given chances but still isn’t hitting the back of the net. Sam Cosgrove has barely got any playing time despite goals drying up numerous times in the opening 10 matches.
The Cumbrians have a lot to think about as the season fully gets into its swing during the coming months. Curle will be hoping to simply still be in his job for the remainder of the season and if it’s not a play-off or automatic promotion finish, there could be blue feelings around the club; waiting for a change at Carlisle United.
Who has been Carlisle’s best player so far?
Reggie Lambe – Played really well and scored a couple of excellent goals as well.
Who has been Carlisle’s most surprising player so far?
Tom Parkes – has been a rock at the back and with the exception of his silly red card at Lincoln, he has barely put a foot wrong.
Performance against my expectations?
It’s below par. Carlisle United are falling behind teams that they should be challenging. I thought we would be challenging for the automatics but it would be a miracle to reach automatic promotion now due to the current position the club is in.