Finally a season for fans of Carlisle to be positive about – and Ibehre has been the magic talisman

Carlisle manager Keith Curle. Picture: Ian Robinson
Carlisle manager Keith Curle. Picture: Ian Robinson
Pompey striker Conor Chaplin Picture: Joe Pepler

Congratulations – Chaplin on the brink of Pompey milestone

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This season is suggesting it is going to be comfortably better than the last two or three for Carlisle, which isn’t staying a lot.

They started off the campaign okay, staying in games almost entirely thanks to Jabo Ibehre and his goals.

The Cumbrians have also showed a bit of character, which they didn’t really have this time last year, so they have been chiseling out a few good results.

At one point Ibehre, who was the talisman with 10 goals in his opening 10 matches, was out with a hamstring injury, but they have continued to pick up points.

Keith Curle had a revamp in the summer and they now play a bit of football, building up from the back.

There are still teething problems but it is a bit more entertaining to watch than it has been for a while.

Carlisle are 10th at present, which is roughly where they deserve to be.

If they can tighten up they may even have a chance of the top seven, although that would also depend on if they can get more recruits in January.

If anything, the progress on the field has taken the heat off issues away from the pitch.

Firstly, Curle is in talks over a contract extension and that is unresolved at the moment.

Then there is the ownership situation, with a long-standing story that some mysterious billionaire is supposedly interested in investing in the club.

Nothing appears to have happened in six months and nobody knows who this guy is.

The club insists it is confidential – but matters could have got a bit tetchy if the team were not doing well. They have provided a distraction.

In terms of football, most would have settled for not another season of shambles.

Thankfully it hasn’t been that way.

It’s great not to be looking behind in absolute terror at the threat of relegation.

This has been the tangible improvement which people wanted.

Looking at those who have impressed, Ibehre was the best player by a country mile at the start of the season and the leading light.

Having said that, when he was out injured for six weeks others have stepped up pretty well as Carlisle have coped pretty well.

But he is a big player for the club, good at this level, physical, still has a bit of pace and can play.

Danny Grainger had a tough time last season when he was struggling, along with a lot of players.

Now he’s winning a lot of people around with his performances.

He’s a good crosser of the ball and clearly gives his all for the shirt.

Finally Alex Gilliead, on loan from Newcastle, has been absolutely phenomenal in a couple of games, helping Carlisle beat Exeter on his own.