Next Carlisle United Manager: Owen Coyle, Gavin Skelton and Matt Jansen in the mix to succeed Steven Pressley

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 14 November 2019, 10:52

Steven Pressley’s dismissal means Carlisle United are looking for a new manager.

The next boss, alone, cannot change the club; the club has to change itself to some extent and review the way it recruits, the way it intends to make players and managers feel wanted, the way it approaches the issue of contract length.

Chairman Andrew Jenkins, Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens and Director of Football David Holdsworth have all got a lot of things wrong in recent years and there must be a change in process, if not personnel, from the top down for progress to be made.

If those things happen, then these are five managers in the next Carlisle manager market who could lead the club back on an upward trajectory.

Owen Coyle

Why he should get the job

Experienced.

Owen Coyle has managed in the Premier League with Burnley and Bolton, as well as in the Championship with Wigan, so he has excellent pedigree as a boss at League Two level.

His contacts in the Lancashire area might help Carlisle do deals with the nearest cluster of clubs to them geographically.

Why he might not

Reputation.

Since leaving Burnley for Bolton in 2010, Coyle’s reputation has suffered a knock.

He oversaw relegation with the Trotters, then effectively took Blackburn down in 2016-17 and had an underwhelming stint at Wigan in 2013-14.

Verdict

Easy to see why Coyle’s pedigree would appeal to a bottom half League Two club but equally, there’s other managers in lower leagues arguably more deserving of an opportunity.

Gavin Skelton

Why he should get the job

Gavin Skelton has a positive relationship with Director of Football David Holdsworth, which could have a big say in the eventual decision.

Having been assistant to Pressley for much of this calendar year, the 38-year-old already has an inherent knowledge of the squad and will get an opportunity to prove himself in forthcoming league games.

Why he might not

Skelton arguably takes as much responsibility for the poor form as Pressley, because he has had a strong input on coaching, recruitment, selection and general decision making.

Verdict

Perhaps not the appointment that would appeal to fans most, but the Carlisle board, keen to make cut-backs in recent years, might fancy a low-cost, internal appointment. Skelton is the current favourite and BetVictor’s 5/1 on offer may shorten.

Ian Evatt

Why he should get the job

Ian Evatt is doing an excellent job at nearby Barrow, building a competitive top seven team on a low budget.

Carlisle have had to cut-back in recent years, so they could do with Evatt’s ability to construct a side bigger than the sum of its parts.

In 17 games, the Cumbrians have conceded 29 goals – the most in League Two – whereas Barrow have only conceded 24 in 19 National League encounters, giving them the sixth-best defensive record.

Evatt likes his teams to be solid and steady fundamentally, which is why his current outfit have kept five clean sheets in their last nine.

Carlisle could do with going back to basics.

Why he might not

Never managed in the EFL before and, having signed a new contract with Barrow earlier in the season, he would require a significant compensation fee.

Verdict

Would certainly re-organise the Cumbrians – but the matter of the compensation fee could put off the Carlisle board.

Matt Jansen

Why he should get the job

Matt Jansen is a Carlisle legend.

He was brought up in the city, he started his career at Brunton Park and was part of the memorable 1996-97 double-winning season.

The creative forward, who starred at Blackburn, has been reasonably successful as a manager with Chorley, whom he inspired to promotion from the Northern Premier Division in 2013-14 and progress thereon, before leaving due to Garry Flitcroft’s exit.

At a time when the Carlisle board is doing so little to please natives, they could do worse than appoint a popular figure who will, temporarily at least, create some semblance of togetherness. 

Why he might not

No managerial experience beyond his time with Chorley and thus could be perceived as an overly sentimental choice.

Verdict

Out of contract and would certainly galvanize the place. 

Darren Kelly

Why he should get the job

Darren Kelly already has EFL managerial experience in the division above with Oldham Athletic in 2015.

While that particular role did not quite go as he might have hoped, Kelly is wiser for the experience.

He guided Hyde United to the Northern Premier League Division One North title in 2017-18 and to a 10th-placed finish the following season, before moving upstairs to a Sporting Director role.

That stint would help him, because it is important that the next Carlisle boss understands how to manage a club and not just a team, that they have some inclination as to how to work with Holdsworth on avoiding the types of mistakes made previously, especially on the issue of contract length.

Plus, Kelly has knowledge of the non-league market.

For the previous two seasons, Carlisle neglected this area of recruitment despite cut backs and thus struggled to find value, but this year their better players have been defender Jon Mellish and playmaker Mo Sagaf, from Gateshead and Braintree Town respectively.

If Kelly can unlock a gem in places other clubs aren’t looking, the Cumbrians can gain a competitive advantage.

Why he might not

Three divisions would be a big jump and he would need to re-acclimatize to professional level.

Verdict

Kelly has entered BetVictor’s market for next Carlisle manager last night and could be an intriguing option at 25/1.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Graham Westley
Graham Westley
(Stevenage)
16th February
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