Graham Kavanagh has told Carlisle’s players they owe Greg Abbott a performance after the 49-year-old was sacked by Sheffield United’s League One rivals.
Kavanagh delivered his message ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between the two teams at Brunton Park. The former Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan Athletic midfielder has been placed in caretaker charge until a permanent appointment is made.
Revealing Abbott personally announced news of his departure to Carlisle’s squad, Kavanagh said: “Greg’s final message was that he wishes us every success going forward and if we wouldn’t mind one last performance for him because the group deserves it.
“For a lot of the young players here it was the first time they have seen a manager being sacked. I’ve been in the game 23 years and seen managers come and go. They all promise to come and say their goodbyes and thank-you’s the next day, but they never have.
“Greg came in and spoke to the group and it was quite emotional. There were a few tears, including among the players – it really affected one or two who felt they’d let him down.
“But he was the first to put his arm around them and say they’ve got careers to get on with and to do their best.
“I can only speak highly of him. His final message was to go and win the game for him, and that’s certainly what we’re going to try and do.”
Abbott was the third longest serving manager in English football until a 1-0 defeat by Port Vale prompted Carlisle’s board of directors to wield the axe.
“He had a difficult couple of months which came to a head last Saturday, but he showed an unbelievable amount of dignity and class,” Kavanagh said. “He was doing as much as he could to turn it round and you could see the effect it had on him and his girlfriend Sally.
“It was clear how upset they were for the club and how it had ended.
“I’ve worked closely with Greg for four-and-a-half years and I appreciate the opportunity he gave me. It has been a real eye-opener seeing that side of the game and the business.
“I just hope people can now remember his achievements and the good times rather than the last few weeks.”