Five candidates to replace Keith Curle at Carlisle United

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 27 April 2018, 07:58

Carlisle United have announced this week that manager Keith Curle will leave at the end of the season.

The timing of the decision gives the board a little longer to decide his successor; and an earlier appointment will aid a smoother recruitment process than the one we saw last summer.

The task of overhauling an aging squad on a reduced budget though will be a challenging one, so The Sack Race takes a look at the five early favourites to take on the baton in the Next Carlisle Manager Market.

Lee Clark

Why he should get the job:

Lee Clark has managed in the Championship as recently as 2014/15 and has since done a good job at Kilmarnock, helping them stay in the Scottish Premiership in 2016/17. The Geordie’s record also includes a record-breaking 43-game unbeaten run while manager of Huddersfield back in 2011/12.

Why he shouldn’t:

The 45-year-old tends to field players out of position and make frequent changes to the starting eleven, which doesn’t always allow for tactical consistency. Clark has one relegation on his CV - with Blackpool in 2014/15 - and is perhaps fortunate not to have more.

Birmingham stayed up with 44 points in 2013/14 when Peterborough had gone down with 54 the previous season, while Bury fans would argue Clark is largely responsible for their current demise.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

It feels like Clark has had his chance in the EFL - we reckon the board should look elsewhere.

Neil McDonald

Why he should get the job:

McDonald led Carlisle to 8th in League One - their highest finish in 20 years - in 2006/07. More recently, he achieved success in Ireland with FC Limerick, who didn’t want him to leave after he helped them stay in the top flight whilst streamlining the squad and blooding youngsters.

McDonald would have a similar re-building job on his hands at Carlisle; their last starting eleven had no permanently contracted players under the age of 27.

Why he shouldn’t:

When McDonald was at Blackpool, he was criticized for his defensive tactics - they were relegated as League One’s lowest scorers with 40 goals in 2015/16. Some fans also regarded him to be too blindly optimistic and perhaps too close politically to the Oyston family. While he was put in a difficult position on the Fylde Coast, Gary Bowyer subsequently provided a better way of managing the off-field tension.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

McDonald appears to divide opinion among fans; while there’s reason to think he might do well, he would need to prove he has learnt from his time at Bloomfield Road.

Matt Jansen

Why he should get the job:

He would be a popular figure. Jansen was born in Carlisle but he was made in the royal navy and played for the Cumbrians for three years, helping them to a promotion and Football League Trophy double in 1996/97.

This appointment wouldn’t be based solely on sentiment: Jansen’s success as manager of National League North outfit Chorley, who have recently confirmed their play-off place, shows he has coaching credentials.

The 40-year-old’s extensive knowledge of the non-league market will be helpful too: with a reduced budget expected, Carlisle need to improve on their recruitment from lower divisions.

Why he shouldn’t:

The main bugbear that Carlisle fans had with Curle was that the team was not as proactive as they might have liked, especially at Brunton Park, where they have scored 30 goals in 22; the ninth fewest in League Two. It’s worth keeping in mind that as well as Jansen’s Chorley have done this season, they have scored just 27 goals in 20 home games, the third fewest in their division.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Jansen’s popularity with fans means his appointment would be a finely-calculated gamble that might just be worth taking.

Zigor Aranalde

Why he should get the job:

Aranalde was a popular man during his three-year playing stint at Brunton Park, where he made 109 appearances and was part of the 2005-06 team that won the League Two title.

Now assistant at Watford, he has attended plenty of club events to build bridges with fans, which will be an important facet of managing a community-centred club. As well as coaching, the 45-year-old has previously held recruitment positions including European Scouting Manager at Brighton; his versatility would come in handy, given that Carlisle might not have the budget for an extensive backroom team.

Why he shouldn’t:

Aranalde is yet to test himself as a number one; in fact, prior to his current job his only experience of being an assistant came at Albacete five years ago. The lack of experience would make his appointment a risk - Ziggy played guitar, but can he manage a football team?

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

In the absence of candidates with a proven recent track record in the EFL, Aranalde could be worth a look.

John Sheridan

Why he should get the job:

His record. In late February, John Sheridan inherited a Fleetwood Town side 20th and outside the drop zone on goal difference alone but by the end of March, they were effectively safe from relegation in League One. ‘Shez’ has done a similar job once at Newport and twice at Oldham, having also overseen a longer-term period of progress at Plymouth.

Why he shouldn’t:

Sheridan appears to relish his reputation as a firefighter; when he last moved to a League Two club in pre-season at Notts County, who had a bigger budget then than Carlisle can offer now, results didn’t materialize. The former Sheffield Wednesday playing legend is more likely to stay out of work until a relegation-threatened outfit come calling – perhaps that’s how he prefers it.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

There’s no arguing with Sheridan’s record, but we’re not sure this move would suit him.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Graham Westley
Graham Westley
(Stevenage)
16th February
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