THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Something Greg Abbot didn't manage

icon promotion1 October ~ Carlisle United gave the manager's job to caretaker Graham Kavanagh yesterday on the back of three straight League victories, and a sprint from the relegation zone to 14th place. Roger Lytollis's article in WSC 316 on the lengthy reign of Kavanagh's predecessor Greg Abbott, appointed in November 2008, considered his inability to win three League games in a row during his lengthy stint in the Brunton Park dugout. Despite this, when sacked on September 9, Abbott was the third-longest-serving boss in the League, behind only Paul Tisdale and Arsène Wenger.

That is very creditable considering that earlier this century Carlisle held the record for the most managerial changes since the war of any League club.

Abbot's successor appears to have enjoyed the luck that deserted him in 2013, achieving a 2-1 home victory over Notts County when the visitors comfortably shaded the possession and chances. A glorious dummy from a free-kick and woeful defensive lapse gave Carlisle two goals and Mark Gillespie's late second-half saves guaranteed the points.

Having beaten a lacklustre Sheffield United in his first match and had the good fortune to play Stevenage on a clueless afternoon, Kavanagh has nailed nine points with a brand of blustering, workmanlike football and a reliance on a few genuine strengths: Matty Robson's purposeful surges forward, David Amoo's assured and inventive attacking moves and the rapidly improving confidence and skills of goalkeeper Gillespie.

One topic of discussion among United supporters at Stevenage was the fact Kavanagh remains conspicuous as the best first-toucher of a ball in the pre-match drills. Time on the ball and running into space to receive it do appear to have increased since he took over.  

The Notts County programme stated "the good of Abbott's 251 weeks in charge must not be forgotten". That's unlikely when Kavanagh is in charge of his predecessor's team, his signings and – by virtue of fairly small pool of obvious first-team talent – is near-enough obliged to adopt Abbottesque tactics. Abbott took Carlisle to Wembley twice (winning once) and signed more good than bad players; all on very limited funds. Ultimately he appeared unable to get them to perform for him this year. Time, maybe, for a change of attitude. Neil Nixon

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