United manager Keith Curle on a busy week
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about a weekend without a game for the players following what has been a week of hard work for the squad.
“I think not having a game this weekend is a blessing in some respects,” he said. “We’ve been able to spend a lot of time on the training ground, which is always good, because it allows you to iron out some of the faults and errors, and start to implement some of the things you want to happen.
“There’s always a negative because you want the players to eradicate the last result. The only way to really do that is to put in a performance and get a result from the next fixture. The lads want the games to come thick and fast because they know they need to halt the slide.”
“We do have a lot of things which need to be ironed out so we’ve had an 11v11 game every day,” he explained. “We’ve been able to use different formations and personnel, and we’ve had some of the youth lads involved as well to give them the opportunity to show us what they can do. It’s been good.
“We’ve had double sessions all week but it’s been clearly communicated to the players that it hasn’t been a punishment. Everything has been done with a view to helping us to get rid of the errors and mistakes we’ve been making. We’ve been able to look at the decision making processes the players use at corners and free kicks, for example, and I think it’s helped everyone.”
“It’s been a good week because we’ve spent a lot of time together,” he added. “It’s been an opportunity for the players to speak and communicate not only with us, but amongst themselves.
“We asked the players to tell us why they’re unhappy and what they’re going to do about it. It’s easy for us all to say we’re third from bottom, but we shouldn’t be because of the quality we have in that changing room. They’re just words. We have to get out there and prove it.
“With the pay structure in place, the wages we pay and the budget we have there is no way we should be third from bottom. We are, the table tells us that, so then you have to accept it and ask what we’re going to do about it.
“I asked the questions on Wednesday – what is a leader and what is a winner? How do you define a person with a winning mentality? I asked the players to think about who they thought was a winner or leader in the dressing room and it was good to see the honesty we got in return.
“It was interesting to see we had players who didn’t class themselves as a leader. In some cases, other people identified they were for a number of reasons. That can simply be because others feel they lead by example. It’s not all about hand clapping, fist pumping and who can shout the loudest.”
“We know where we’re at and that’s why we have a situation where everyone connected to the club is unhappy,” he said. “We’ve got to get to the bottom of why. If you keep asking that question – why do you feel unhappy – you get some fantastic answers.
“If they start using the words ‘think’ and ‘thought’ when they reply you know an excuse is coming. We’re stopping that from happening so they know they need to work harder and be more demanding of each other.
“It’s also easy for them to say they’re going to make themselves happy. We need to know how they’re going to do that. We need to ask ourselves questions to see if we can help with that process.
“Are we creating the right environment to make it easier to work harder and enjoy the football? Are we not demanding enough of the players? Have we been too demanding of them? Is this a nervous environment in their opinion? There is a reason why this football club is where it is and the answer to that is either in my office or in that changing room. We have to find the answer because we have to start moving up that table.”
On the current injury situation, he said: “Troy [Archibald-Henville] is training, which is good news. Mark Gillespie has had his final appointment with his surgeon and we’re looking for him to be able to step up and take his training schedule out on the grass.
“Gary Dicker is off the crutches and he should be training with us again by Monday or Tuesday. Stephen Elliott is obviously more long term, and Connor Brown has been carrying a dead leg from the weekend. That shouldn’t be a problem because there’s time for that to settle so he can train with us again next week.
“Danny Kearns played in an 11v11 on Wednesday and he picked up a dead leg on his troublesome right leg. That’s a frustrating one because he’s got so much ability and he needs to be showcasing it day in and day out. He wants to train, which is a pleasing thing, but things happen for a reason. It could be that he’s not quite physically strong enough yet to have the daily rigours which are needed. That’s something we and he will work on.
“Like I say, the good thing with most of these lads is that we expect them back with us next week, so we’ll have a decent complement of players to choose from for the Exeter game.”
And on how he’ll be spending his Saturday, he said: “I’ll be scouting this weekend. I’ll be looking at a game for potential targets for January.
“Lee Dykes is going to go and watch Exeter for us, so we can prepare more for next week, so it’ll very much be about preparation and making sure we can do what we can before we get back in action next weekend.”
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