MANAGER: We can affect what's ahead of us

Keith Curle on team meetings and self evaluation

Manager Keith Curle spoke today about how he dealt with the post-match team talk at Dagenham having seen his side slip to a disappointing defeat.

“I left it five or six minutes before I went into the dressing room to make sure I had my thoughts collected on the way I wanted it to go,” he said. “There’s a level of frustration when you’ve gone to play a team where you believe you have enough in the changing room to get something out of the game.

“We got an ideal start by going a goal in front and, to be honest, things felt comfortable. Obviously we got to the end of the game and we’d lost 4-2, even though we did a bit more in the second half. The second balls fell to Dagenham and I was mindful of the fact that goals change games and the mindset of the players.”

“So, I went into the dressing room and all I could hear was the music Dagenham had put on,” he continued. “They pumped up their ghetto blaster and they revelled in the victory.

“I opened our changing room door and I let our players listen to their celebrations because, let me tell you, it bugged me. I was annoyed because they were celebrating a victory that should have been ours, could have been ours and needed to be ours.”

“I’ve looked at the goals we conceded countless times since,” he told us. “I have to say it was like the Keystone Cops. We go through things in training, we walk through situations and we even film it on occasions to help us show people what we’re talking about. 

“We write things down on session plans, which we give to the players on a Friday, and it’s all kept really simple. Possibly we need to simplify it even more because I’ve watched the DVD from Saturday and I can see people in places they shouldn’t be, and I have to ask why that happens. The things we’re talking about are simple little areas and you’d think there has to be someone out there who will point it out. 

“What you do see is that one thing goes wrong and it sparks a chain reaction. We need to break that chain and make sure the right people are in the right place at the right time. I don’t like getting beat so I need to look at what can help us to get a better performance this weekend.”

“My job is to evaluate everything and the stats are saying that we aren’t winning enough games or getting enough points away from home,” he commented. “That will change. We’ve managed to win some games so far but we know we need to win more. We just have to shuffle the pack to make sure we have the right people making the right decisions on the day.

“We’re having a truth and honesty session today [Monday] to help with that but it’s nothing to be scared of. We can’t change things which have happened but we can affect what’s ahead of us. You need to be brave to make those changes and that’s not just about me. It’s about the players making sure they fully understand what they’ve got to do and doing what they need to do to achieve it. 

“The session isn’t going to be used as a tool to bang them over the head. It’s used purely as a learning tool because they have got to learn from those things which have gone wrong. 

“If I stand in front of them all and shout, scream and bawl it doesn’t do any good for anyone. It’s about self evaluation so the players can say for themselves what they think went wrong. We get them to make physical and mental notes about the things they aren’t happy with. We use the match DVD because videos don’t lie. They see things, ask questions and they get to analyse everything.

“As you can imagine I’ve been in hundreds of team meetings and you don’t want it to turn into a case of whoever has the loudest voice is right. That does happen with certain voices at certain clubs. 

“However, you often find that the people who talk most in the dressing room have least to say out on the pitch. Some people aren’t comfortable with speaking in front of their peers at all and they clam up. What we are trying to create by doing these sessions is an environment where everyone can question anything, as long as it’s done constructively and with a purpose which will serve us all.”

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