2017/18 League Two Preview: Keith Curle and Carlisleby Mike Holden / 12 July 2017, 14:02Tweet
Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Keith Curle and Carlisle ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League Two season.
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.
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.
"I am a defender, and have a defensive mentality, but I like scoring goals and playing entertaining, free-flowing, attacking football. We’ve got new personnel coming in and I think we can be more creative in formations, get more people behind the ball at times. There’s individual errors in League Two and you’re always going to get that. Some goals we conceded were absolute howlers and what training sessions can I put on for somebody slipping over? We do need to improve."
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.