Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cumbrians Will Keep Up the Winning Habit ( Gray

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cumbrians Will Keep Up the Winning Habit ( Gray

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Carlisle captain Kevin Gray is staying positive about life after Paul Simpson, as he tells Stuart Rayner.

Losing the manager who inspired you to back-to-back promotions would hit any team hard, but Carlisle United skipper Kevin Gray insists it is business as usual at Brunton Park after the departure of Paul Simpson ( and that means winning.

Having been part of the Carlisle team which won the Conference play-offs in 2005 and then proceeded to walk away with the League Two title the following season, the 34-year-old Yorkshireman has grown used to success. And he claims the arrival of rookie manager Neil McDonald has done nothing to dampen spirits.

"There's a real positive feel," he says of McDonald's first few weeks in management. "The manager's reasonably happy and so are the players. We've done OK in pre-season."

Former Carlisle and Newcastle United player McDonald came highly recommended by his predecessor after Simpson's shock decision to leave his home town club for Championship side Preston North End.

But while the pair may have studied for their Uefa Pro Licences together, McDonald is no Simpson clone. "The manager's got his own ideas," Gray stresses. "He still wants us to work hard and he's changed one or two things, but the spirit among the lads still remains as before.

"With the new manager and (coach) Greg Abbott coming in, they've created a bit more atmosphere with their own personalities."

For a side grown used to winning, the aim is simply to keep the habit going.

"Our ambition is to do as well as we can," reasons Gray, who joined in November 2003 when Carlisle were heading for relegation from what was then Division Three. But after a difficult initial six months, the Cumbrians picked up spectacularly and the centre-back sees no reason why they should now start to lower their sights. …

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