United manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Mansfield away game shortly after full time on Saturday.
“We didn’t do the simple things well,” he said. “We failed to consistently cause them problems due to a lack of willingness to keep getting the ball into dangerous areas. I didn’t think there was anything in it through the first 45 minutes and all we needed to do was keep doing the simple things and the rewards would come.
“If you don’t do that then all that happens is you give the opposition the opportunity to score. Another disappointment was that we didn’t stop crosses from getting into our box and one of the first deliveries from them in the second half ended up as a goal.
“The second came from us getting done on the break when we were up at the other end and expecting to put the ball into a good area ourselves. The really disappointing thing from the whole game, as I say, was our failure to do the simple things.
“If you don’t do the things which should be the foundation to everything else in your game, you don’t progress. We don’t look like scoring goals at the moment because we aren’t putting the ball into dangerous areas or retaining possession in the final third. With that comes hesitancy and you lose the freedom of expression in the way you play your game. At the moment we’re getting punished for that.”
On the growing feelings of frustration and nervousness, he said: “It’s squeaky bum time now and it’s pure and simple, we need to start winning games. Ability wise there is more than enough in that changing room, I haven’t got a problem with that.
“We’re being battered at the moment but you’ve got to take all of the punches and show you’ve got fighting spirit. What you can’t afford to do is turn your back and run away. We’ve got some big characters coming back and they’ve all got to play their part. With a period like this you can’t allow weaknesses to develop. You have to turn them into strengths.
“The run we’re on at the moment is shocking and disappointing. There was a fabric and a fibre that was growing at the beginning of the season and that has been lost. You can say that if you sell players and you miss players through injury and suspension it will have an impact, but the unity still has to be there.
“We need to get back to doing the basics and we need to take pride in it. Come the end of the season it’s games like this that we remember because the more we can learn from them and get rid of them the more successful we will be. I don’t bury my head in the sand and say this result hasn’t happened. It has and it needs to become the springboard for us to go forward because we need to be better than this.”
Mansfield pounced twice in the second half to take the points and the manager explained that, again, the goals had come from not doing the simple things well enough on the day.
“How many times do we say that we have to stop crosses coming into our box?” he asked. “It’s a simple methodology that gets you results. If you cut out the supply the likelihood is that you don’t concede as many goals. The manner of the ball getting into our box for the first goal was far too easy.
“Confidence is taking a knock with the way things are going. Sometimes when you realise the group is being battered you’ve got to simplify the instructions. We’ve just told them that they’ve been beaten today by a team which did the very simple things over and over again.
“All they did consistently was put the ball in behind us. They then got after it so they could put it into the danger area. We did exactly the same for ten or twelve minutes at the start of the game and we did it quite well. Unfortunately we stopped doing it and we allowed them to get on the front foot.”
Talking about the hunt for goals, he told us: “The ball needs to go into the right areas consistently. The creative and forward thinking players then need to be in there and getting on the end of them. We’re lacking quality and conviction at crucial times and you can see that with how many times we hit the first man with our crosses.
“It’s a very simple game, but only if you do the simple things well. We’ll come again. We’re getting slapped, and rightly so, because you can’t expect to stop doing the simple things in this game and get away with it.
“The game plan was there today and we looked very comfortable with it for 45 minutes. It was a case of making sure we didn’t change what we were doing but we went out there for the second half and we didn’t do the simple things well.”
Speaking about the latest addition to the injury list with a facial injury picked up by defender Tom Miller, he said: “It’s disappointing when you see your right back come off with eight or nine stitches across his face. We asked the coaching staff to have a word with the referee about both of their forwards leading with their elbows because that’s all we could do about it.
“We’ll have to see how that settles but it was a bad one for the lad. I know he’ll want to get back because he wants to do his bit for the team and the club.”
And on a first appearance for the club for French forward Junior Joachim, he said: “The kid will score goals. He’s a threat and he has good dynamics. A lot of his work now will be on his fitness to get him up to speed, but he’s a very willing worker.
“Some of the funding for it came from the fans and that’s a fantastic gesture. I’m sure the supporters will appreciate that it’s been used in exactly the way they wanted it to be used. It’s helping to keep us competitive through the latter stages of the season and we’re looking at what the figures are to see if we can bring in a few more players who can help us as well.”
We’ll have more from the manager on the official website on Monday morning.
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