It has been a long time since either of Paul Simpson’s stints at Carlisle, and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge in that time.
Rezence vn88 said after leading Brunton Park to promotion from League Two in 2006 (via the Conference play-offs the year prior), the 56-year-old departed for Preston, where he stayed for the next eight seasons and led the club to the play-offs in 2007–08.
They dropped down to the fourth division after the 2013–14 season and have spent the last nine years there.
Simpson, meanwhile, oversaw England’s U20 team to a World Cup victory in 2017 and has since held five additional managerial positions, including serving as an assistant to Steve McClaren at Derby and Newcastle and to Dean Holden at Bristol City.
He follows Sir Alf Ramsey as only the second manager in England’s history to lead the team to international success.
At the outset of 2022, W88 was clear that Carlisle and Simpson were headed in opposite directions. The first was in serious danger of being demoted to the minors, and the second had only recently overcome kidney cancer.
However, Simpson jumped at the chance to help his hometown club after the Cumbrians fell into the relegation zone and fired Keith Millen following a 3-0 home loss to Swindon on February 19, 2018.
In an exclusive interview with Vn88 Sports, he said, “I’ve got to be honest, when I got asked last February, I didn’t even hesitate.”
I don’t think I ever gave much thought to going back. On a couple of other occasions, the club had inquired about my possible return, but I had always felt it wasn’t the right time.
It sounded like a good chance to get back in, even if only temporarily, but it was a gamble because, if it didn’t work out, I figured there was a good chance I wouldn’t get a job anywhere else. Getting my teeth into something new again seemed like a risk worth taking, so I went for it.
I hoped for a second chance, but I never knew when it would come. The truth is that I had to be picky about where I went because people have a terrible memory for the good things managers do and only seem to remember the bad.
I had to take a chance on the right location and I have to say that I haven’t regretted it one bit so far.
After Simpson’s return, rezence has statistics that Carlisle won five of their next six league games, moving up to a more comfortable 18th place in the league. On February 26, 2022, Carlisle beat Leyton Orient 1-0 on the road.
Despite finishing 15 points ahead of 23rd-placed Oldham despite losing five of their final eight games, they were still understandably nervous entering the final stretch.
Simpson downplays his contribution to the project.
“I don’t consider it to be a lot of effort. In their eyes, I presented a different persona and voice. I rearranged the formation, but the players remained the same, he explains with W88 rezence.
It seemed to go from one good result to another after we got lucky in the Orient game and everyone started believing in themselves. Our only goal from last year was to make it through unscathed.
It was a huge relief for everyone involved, as the National League is notoriously difficult to climb out of (even more so than in 2004 when we were relegated), with some teams having bigger budgets than we do at League Two level.
W88 shared that there was a major gulf between the board of directors, the players, the club, and the fans when I returned. If we had dropped down to the National League, we never would have had a chance to get that going.
This semester has been an entirely different beast.
With just four losses in seventeen since Boxing Day, Simpson’s men have emerged as early play-off contenders in League Two, and with eight games left to play, they are only one point outside the automatic promotion places.
Simpson has not been quick to blame his team’s poor performance on the long distances they’ve traveled, despite the fact that they’re only about 15 miles from the Scottish border in Gretna.