Carlisle United meeting the opposition.
Ahead of Tranmere’s trip to Brunton Park on Saturday afternoon, I spoke to someone with a great knowledge of Carlisle United in the form of UcLan student Ben Pitkeathly.
The upcoming encounter is one that will ask much of either side due to the qualities that both sides possess, the Rovers are currently on a roll but the managerless hosts will want to impress.
How long have you been a Carlisle United supporter? How did you first come across the club?
I have supported Carlisle since moving down from Aberdeen in 2007, I went to my first game not long after and have been hooked ever since.
What are your best and worst experiences through following United?
The best experience following United has to be winning the Johnstone Paint Trophy at Wembley in 2011, with Peter Murphy scoring a volley. The worst experience was definitely Jack Stacey’s goal against us for Exeter City in the playoffs, it was a gut-wrenching feeling when that went in after coming back from two goals down.
Random fact about the club/the area?
Carlisle is the biggest city in England by landmass, 1,039.97 square kilometres.
We’re currently two months into the new campaign. However, what are your thoughts and expectations for the eight months ahead and how do they compare to those that you held at this stage last season?
Hopes are now for survival after a disastrous start, whereas at this point last season we were approaching our good run of form, which I cannot see us doing this season.
Something which happened very recently is the departure of manager Chris Beech. What were your thoughts on his dismissal and going forward, who would you like to see in the managerial seat?
No one likes to see someone lose their job but unfortunately for Chris Beech it has been in the offing for a while. Poor results and lack of a plan B has led to his dismissal. There were good times, saving us from relegation when he first arrived and a spell at the top of the table last January, but he’s been unable to stop the recent rut. I’d quite like to see Andy Morrison given the job after being very effective at Connah’s Quay, Zigor Aranalde is another who should be targeted having coached at a very high level and has brilliant contacts in the game.
Who are/is the current owner of United and what are your thoughts on them? Are there any existing off-field plans that are exciting supporters?
The less said the better really, we have three custodians who’ve been in charge for 13 years, but behind the scenes, a succession plan is supposedly being worked on so there is hope for the future.
Who are your key players and danger men?
Jon Mellish, who scored 16 times last season, is our biggest goal threat. Joe Riley has been our most impressive player this season, but his level of influence will depend on whether he plays right-back or central midfielder.
If we are to take a look at his summer transfer recruitment, what are your thoughts on the incomings and outgoings? Also, would you have wanted more to have happened?
Our recruitment was incredibly poor losing several first-team regulars and the replacements don’t seem to have the same quality or are yet to show it. Many would’ve liked to see a target man brought in as the strikers we have do not suit the managers direct style of play.
What do you think of Tranmere as a club in general and who do you believe are their danger men?
I admire Tranmere and its fans standing independently and proudly away from the other clubs across the river. Callum McManaman stands out as a player who could cause problems for us and I’ve heard good reviews of Elliot Nevitt.
To finish our conversation off, what is your score prediction for the upcoming encounter at Brunton Park?
Unfortunately, I can’t see anything but a loss for us. 3-0 Tranmere, Hawkes, Nevitt, Maynard.
‘Joe Riley has been our most impressive player this season, his level of influence depending on what position he plays in’