2017/18 League Two Preview: Keith Curle and Carlisle

Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Keith Curle and CarlisleĀ ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League Two season.

Background

The sale of 14-goal striker Charlie Wyke to Bradford in January derailed Carlisle’s automatic promotion charge but Keith Curle’s leadership qualities were evident throughout, not least in the manner they recovered to clinch a play-off spot having dropped down to tenth in April. A gutsy late flourish set up an epic play-off semi-final against Exeter in which the Cumbrians came back from two goals to level-up twice, only to be floored on the brink of extra time by a thunderbolt from Jack Storer.

Personality

An ex-Crazy Gang member and former Wimbledon captain, Curle’s way of dealing with people can be brutal at times and he’s not afraid of using the media to get what he wants. With no-holds-barred ’truth and honesty’ sessions all part of the routine, the Brunton Park dressing room is no place for shrinking violets. But there’s more to him than just motivation and manipulation. He’s big on analytics and can be highly innovative, a strength perhaps best illustrated by Carlisle’s impressive variety of set piece routines.

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Verdict

Carlisle lost their way last season but we shouldn’t read too much into the sharp decline of their performance data after Christmas, which marked them out as potential relegation fodder. The stakes were high and the natural inclination was to protect what they had built up. The summer break will have done them good, and they should return every bit as intense as they were 12 months ago. Wyke will be hard to replace but there’s huge scope for improvement in that defence.

Prediction: play-offs

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