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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Ex-Carlisle Utd loan player Christian Ribeiro shocked by team's slump

When Christian Ribeiro walked into the Brunton Park dressing-room after joining Carlisle United on three months’ loan, he saw a team of winners.

Christian Ribeiro photo
Christian Ribeiro

The Welsh international was part of one of the best all-round team performances of the season when a late smash-and-grab raid earned them a 2-1 win over Scunthorpe United and sparked hopes of a promotion campaign.

Twelve months later, Carlisle’s confident swagger has gone, along with their winning habit, replaced by scowls, hunched shoulders and a morale-crushing run of six defeats in their last seven games.

A defeat on Saturday to Ribeiro’s new club Scunthorpe in this season’s corresponding fixture at Glanford Park will see the Cumbrians drop into the relegation zone for the first time .

Ribeiro admits he is shocked to see Carlisle flailing about in the bottom half of League One but is convinced they have enough quality in their squad to turn around a disappointing season.

Apart from the 23-year-old right-back, central defender Lubo Michalik is the only other player missing from the Carlisle squad which went into last season’s festive programme with all guns blazing.

“I was really impressed with Carlisle when I was there last season and their squad is generally the same as it was when I was there so that suggests they are capable of turning things round,” said Ribeiro.

“It was a very honest group of people at Carlisle, and I really enjoyed my time there.

“They pick up guys who haven’t made it or established themselves at other clubs and give them a sense of belonging. Everyone was pulling in the same direction.

“It was a very good place to work and I’m very surprised where they are in the league.

“When I was there they were in the top eight and I thoroughly enjoyed playing under Greg Abbott, who is a very good manager.

“I’m expecting a tough game against them on Saturday. I won’t be doing them any favours.

“I hope we beat them but that Carlisle can go on and have a good season. I have a lot of feeling for them and always look for their results.”

Along with Scunthorpe captain Paul Reid and strikers Karl Hawley and Mike Grella, Ribeiro will be one of four former Carlisle players who could face their old club on Saturday

Had things worked out how Ribeiro had hoped he would still be wearing a Carlisle shirt tomorrow.

The two-cap Welshman, who has a Portuguese father, joined Carlisle on loan from Bristol City last November to cover for the long-term absence of the injured Frank Simek.

There was talk of him returning for another spell in January and this summer he was linked with a permanent move to Carlisle before Simek committed himself to a new contract.

Instead he penned a two-year deal with Scunthorpe in the summer after playing 10 games while on loan at the Iron last season.

Despite Scunthorpe’s struggles to lift themselves out of the bottom four and the sacking of boss Alan Knill, who was replaced in the hot-seat by Brian Laws, Ribeiro has been delighted with the move. He has the regular first-team football he craved and was last week named in the League One team of the week following an impressive performance in a 3-1 win over Leyton Orient.

“Things went well for me personally at Carlisle and, if anything, I would have liked to stay longer,” said Ribeiro.

“I learned such a lot when I was there and was settled even though I was living a long way from home.

“Frank Simek was injured and I was filling the gap. In the summer there was a little bit of talk because Frank was out of contract but he is very highly thought of so there wasn’t too much speculation about him going.”

Scunthorpe’s victory last weekend ended a dismal run of nine defeats, three draws and only three wins in their last 15 games.

The Christmas decorations haven’t even come down yet and already people are talking about Saturday’s League One clash being a relegation six-pointer.

Ribeiro said: “We’ve had similar fortunes at Scunthorpe as we’ve played well and lost games and been punished for individual mistakes.

“It has been quite difficult but the league is so tight with everyone on a par and beating each other.

“We have some really tough games coming up as we face two of the top four [Sheffield United and Tranmere] over Christmas, so if we can get a good results against Carlisle it could set us up well.

“We’re very focused and we have to take all of the positives out of last weekend and keep on improving.

“I’m expecting a really feisty game against Carlisle as both teams will want to do well. I think it will make for a really good game.”

After three straight defeats to Bury, Doncaster and Bournemouth, Scunthorpe last week picked up the morale-boosting win that can sometimes spark a change of luck when they defeated Leyton Orient 3-1.

It is something Carlisle could desperately do with after three consecutive defeats themselves.

There are further similarities in both teams’ fortunes as neither side is strong at home.

Carlisle have lost their last four games at Brunton Park by at least three goals, while Scunthorpe have not won at home since September.

Ribeiro said: “We beat the form team in the league last week and got a really good win.

“Being near the bottom, we need two or three wins on the trot to get out of it. We see Saturday’s game as a great opportunity to get a win but it’s going to be difficult. We haven’t the best home form.

“But the quality in our side is good enough to do well. Hopefully we can get a few good results and get away from the relegation zone. Then we can start to enjoy the season.”

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