Keith Curle on instigating change at Brunton Park
United manager Keith Curle spoke to us about the ongoing work at the club as he continues to stamp his mark on and off the pitch.
“I wouldn’t say I’m meticulous in the way I approach things,” he said. “I don’t like clutter. If something shouldn’t be where it is, find out why and get it moved. That’s my philosophy.
“I’m not going to change everything just because I’m new here. If things have been done for years and years, and we’re getting good results because of it, then it will continue. If it’s done just because that’s how it always has been done, and it isn’t bringing results, that’s when we look at whether or not we can improve it.
“There’s an easy way, a hard way and there’s going to be a Carlisle way. As I’ve said from people I’ve talked to, I know if you give the Carlisle fans everything then they will back you. There are a huge amount of well wishers and I honestly think they genuinely want good things for their club. I’m enjoying it because we’re getting a good reaction and a good response as I do what I said I would do – that’s to find out what’s inside our changing room.”
“The players are attentive,” he told us. “When I speak they listen – well, most of them do!
“We did set plays on Friday and I’d spent all of Thursday looking at Tranmere match reports, and DVDs of their games, so I could get things right. I did a little bit of shape work on Friday then we brought the set plays into the session.
“Unfortunately a couple of the players were talking when I was. I thought, right, I’ve spent seven hours of my time working on this and they now want to talk when I’m talking ... so they got fined.
“I then turned round and one of my members of staff was coaching while I was ... so he got fined. I only needed their attention for 20 minutes and I don’t think that’s a lot to ask. They all now know that when I’m doing set plays or coaching they have to listen to me.”
“Another situation is when we’re at home the normal thing for me to do is to go to my office, immediately after the game, with the staff,” he explained. “That gives us two or three minutes to compose ourselves, get our thoughts together, plan what we're going to say, and that allows me to deliver everything in the way I want to. We did that last Saturday but I then went down the corridor to talk to the players to find that John [Nixon] was in there. That will have to change. We can’t have anybody talking to the players when I want to talk to them.
“I understand it because there has been a bit of pressure on him recently. He’s desperate for the football club to do well and he wanted to congratulate the players and tell them who the man of the match was, and things like that. It’s just a change to the protocol we need so that I talk to the players first. After I’ve done that it becomes an open changing room.”
“I think one of the biggest things I’ve found, for a team that’s at the bottom of the league and four points adrift, is that the players are too nice to each other,” he said. “I don’t mean that horribly but, as I’ve said before, the higher up you go is where you find the players are more critical and more determined to get the best out of those around them. The level of expectation is there and they don’t accept people not doing the basics. That’s what I want to try and introduce in this dressing room.
“We had our truth and honesty session and I think, when we do it again in four or five weeks time, the criticism will be more intense. It’s not just for games, it’s for training as well. If someone isn’t doing it right they need to be told because, if they aren’t, it can carry over into the game on a Saturday and none of us should accept that.”
And on the performances so far, he said: “I’m finding I have to coach on the side of the pitch at the moment as well.
“I didn’t want to give the players too much information because I need them to learn about their roles and responsibilities. I’ve already told them my team talks prior to games will only last about 40 seconds. That’s because I do my work through the week. The last thing for me to do is make sure everyone is ready. I don’t think I need to complicate it any more than that on a match day.”
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