(Picture: Action Images)
By John Lyons
HE MAY have missed out on a Tyson, but Carlisle United manager Keith Curle is confident his side can find the knock-out blows to challenge for League Two promotion.
The Cumbrians invited former Nottingham Forest striker Nathan Tyson, who was released by Doncaster Rovers in the summer, to try out with them – and the 34-year-old scored in a friendly against Queen of the South last Monday.
However, the ex-Derby and Wycombe forward is now looking to tie up a deal with a Scottish club.
“When you invite a player with Nathan’s past for a trial, you know there could be interest in him,” said Curle. “Players need to look after themselves and he took an offer to have further talks with a team in Scotland.”
What Tyson could have provided for the Blues had he stuck around was goals. Though Carlisle were the last remaining unbeaten side in League Two going into the weekend, they were only ninth in the table.
That’s because they had won two and drawn four of their opening half a dozen games.
Yet, with a new-look squad this term, it’s a decent base to build on – and a far cry from when Curle took the reins, with the club bottom of the Football League two years ago.
The 52-year-old former Manchester City and Wolves defender said: “There wasn’t a winning mentality or even a not-get-beat mentality when I arrived. There was a word that got used a lot – unlucky.
“I wanted to get rid of that tag and I said to my staff not to use the word ‘unlucky’ with the players. There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘you can do better’ or ‘you can improve’, but I won’t accept ‘unlucky’.
“We have re-set the standard. Not being beaten so far this season is something to be proud of, but can we turn those draws into wins? I’m confident we can because we’re making enough opportunities to know that winning games will come.”
After seeing his side held to a draw at home by Accrington Stanley last weekend, Curle hit out at the visitors’ time-wasting tactics.
He said the Stanley players were going down injured even if their “sock got twisted”.
Yet Curle believes that is something his troops must expect to face at home this season.
“Teams are showing us a lot of respect,” he said. “They know we have got good players and footballers who can play at a higher level. Teams that play an expansive game know they are in for a tough afternoon.
“Opposition teams are coming with a mindset of defending, rather than attacking, and it’s down to us to break them down. If we take our chances, we can put the opposition on the back foot.
“But we’ve come a long way because, in the past, away teams were coming to get points, play on a good surface and enjoy themselves. Now they know they are going to have to earn everything at Brunton Park.”
One man who could play a key role for the Cumbrians is winger Nicky Adams. The 29-year-old won the League Two title with Northampton Town last term but was keen to move back north.
Adams, who scored the equaliser against Accrington, also won promotion from the bottom tier with Bury in 2014-15, so he’s seeking a hat-trick of promotions in a row.
“I can’t believe we signed him,” said Curle, who has managed at Mansfield, Chester, Torquay and Notts County.
“If you don’t keep an eye on him he will score or create goals. Nicky can play on the left, on the right or up front. We have flexibility in our squad and that can affect the opposition.
“Teams have to put two players on him and that creates space for others.
“We did a lot of our shopping early and it’s paying dividends.”