United’s full-blooded display on Tuesday evening took them to a well deserved three points against high-flying Doncaster Rovers and manager Keith Curle agreed afterwards that the level of the performance had helped the players to settle some nerves following the disappointment of the Blackpool defeat at the weekend.
Speaking immediately after last night’s game, he said: “I hear the questions and I hear the tone of some of the questions, and I think – yeah, rightly so – particularly after the performance on Saturday. People will not have been happy about having to watch their team play like that.
“I can sit and talk about there being a reaction but it’s the players who have to produce it. The lads have answered a lot of questions for themselves and that will please them.
“Some of our fans will have needed a reminder of what we’re trying to build and create because we came unstuck royally against Blackpool. There was no hiding place after that result and they had to respond. Credit to them for being brave and putting in a performance they can be proud of.”
“It’s been a tougher period for us recently but there have been reasons for that,” he continued. “We have to remember that we’ve had some key players missing and that does affect things.
“We’ve now got Mike Jones back and he’s been able to roll out a performance which looks like he’s never been away. Danny Grainger is field based and not too far away from rejoining us and Jason Kennedy has had his operation, so his rehab has started. Max [Crocombe] was missing with a back spasm but he’s in good hands so we’re hopeful he’ll be fine for the weekend.
“Again, it’s how you react to this type of adversity which matters, and all of the other teams around us will face something like it between now and the end of the season. I said to the lads at full time that we now have to maintain the demanding environment we’ve created. We want comments and criticism in the dressing room to be delivered with honesty and we want everyone to be constantly asking for more from each other.”
When asked about the backing the team got from the fans on the night, he said: “I could feel it when the second goal went in – they needed and wanted that to happen. There’s a real feeling of unity growing here and I like the fact that so many stayed behind to clap us at the end.
“It shows that they’re buying in to the hard work this club is doing. That doesn’t come easily, or overnight, and I will say again that I’m not flavour of the month with certain sections of this football club because I’m prepared to do things differently.
“I will apologise that some people don’t like me, but this is my job and this is how I earn my living. The way I want to progress as an individual is to create a demanding environment whereby things are changed for the better. The simple fact is that if I get things wrong I’m not here any more, so I’m always looking for better.”
The Peter Jackson the Jeweller man-of-the-match award went to goal scorer Nicky Adams and the United boss revealed that the popular midfielder had been critical of himself during Monday’s important team meeting.
“It was a great finish from the lad,” he said. “He’s been due another goal. In the team debrief on Monday he said to everyone that he was disappointed with his level of performance in the Blackpool game.
“That’s the level of honesty we have in this group. He’s one of the standard bearers for what we’re trying to create within the dressing room and he was honest enough to say he wasn’t right.
“It’s testament to him that he can then produce a performance like that one against Doncaster, where he was a constant threat. He looked lively, he didn’t hide away and he was trying to make things happen. His was one of many good performances on the night.”
On the solid display from left back Macaulay Gillesphey, he said: “Macaulay has a great left foot, good willingness, and he now just needs to find that element of controlled aggression to add to his game.
“We started to see that come through. When he got booked I was straight over to the fourth official to find out what it was for. He said that it had just come over his earpiece that it was for adopting an aggressive attitude.
“I immediately turned away and thought – yes, thank heaven for that. I’ve finally managed to create an aggressive streak in him. That’s all I’ve wanted the kid to add since he walked into the building. He has everything else, he just now needs to keep reminding the opposition that he’s there and he isn’t going to make it easy for them.”
And on the continued work of looking for more new faces to add to the mix, he said: “We’re going to go and speak to an agent and a player [today] who has been on trial with a Championship club.
“There’s a possibility that we might be able to bring him here if things haven’t worked out there. It’s a long shot but it’s worth us going to have the conversation.
“We’ll also be looking to organise another reserve game for next week to have a look at another two or three trial players. The young lad we invited back from the last one will be back with us on Sunday night, and he’ll have another period where we can look at him.
“With our schedule the way it is there’s no point in bringing him up here just for one session on Thursday. He’ll be here next week and we can take it from there.”
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