No white smoke yet...

With thanks to the News & Star


Carlisle Utd manager saga goes on amid fresh doubts over top target

As Hopkin hopes fade, Blues set to confirm future of skipper Danny Grainger

David Hopkin

Carlisle United's manager hunt is back under the spotlight after serious doubts emerged over their chances of landing David Hopkin.

While the Livingston boss prepares to meet his club's directors over his future, sources have suggested the prospect of him taking charge at Brunton Park is now fading.

It raises the strong possibility that the Blues will now have to turn to other candidates to fill the vacancy left by Keith Curle.

As claims Hopkin is poised to reject United emerged over the weekend, some fans are understood to have contacted the club expressing their concerns.

One source close to the 47-year-old told the News & Star that an agreement was close with the Almondvale boss, only for Hopkin to decide at a late stage that "something wasn't right" with the situation.

The process of identifying Curle's successor could now go on - unless a move for Hopkin can somehow be resurrected.

Asked about the situation by the News & Star, United simply said that, as per Friday's official statement, talks with leading candidates were "ongoing".

They did not comment on speculation that Hopkin would now be rejecting the Brunton Park club.

The Blues have not so far commented on the identities of any of the contenders for the post.

It is now more than a month since it was announced former boss Curle would be leaving United.

Hopkin, who led Livingston to promotion to the Scottish Premiership, has also been strongly linked with the vacancy at St Mirren, whose manager Jack Ross has taken charge at Sunderland.

In a statement on Friday, the Blues said the current "final stage" of the managerial hunt involves thrashing out "important details".

These, said chief executive Nigel Clibbens, included matters like staffing structure, expectations, "working practices" and the mandate for the new boss, not simply contract terms.

The process, Clibbens said, was set to continue over the weekend.

The ongoing uncertainty over the identity of Curle's successor comes as the Blues hope to confirm the future of skipper Danny Grainger tomorrow.

Clibbens suggested talks with the Cumbrian had gone well, with the left-back expected to extend his four-year stay at Brunton Park.

"Negotiations with club captain Danny Grainger have progressed positively and we will confirm his contract position on Tuesday," Clibbens said.

"We want him to stay, and so does he."

A further stay at the club for Grainger would be a rare boost for the Blues in an early close-season which has already seen the departures of Clint Hill, Nicky Adams, Luke Joyce and Mark Ellis.

The managerial wait, meanwhile, comes as the deadline looms for early-buy and season-ticket renewals at Brunton Park.

That falls this Thursday, May 31, with the club having recently admitted that sales are down on last year.

Some fans have told the Blues they are waiting for the outcome of the managerial appointment before deciding whether to renew.

On the manager situation, meanwhile, minutes from the recent Carlisle United Supporters' Groups (CUSG) meeting confirmed that CUOSC's Billy Atkinson had been on the club's interview panel.

"He [Atkinson] had been able to influence the process and had attended all the interviews to date," the minutes said.

"He had raised issues during interviews of community involvement and the need to be a 'team player'. He had reported back positively on the overall procedure."

Carlisle have confirmed their annual summer Family Fun Day will be held at Brunton Park on Sunday, July 15.