United manager Keith Curle ahead of the visit of Oxford United
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us ahead of the visit of Oxford United at the weekend.
“Oxford will have looked at our last two results and they’ll have looked at WyScout and digested the way we play,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll try to come here with a tempo to stop us.
“They’ve picked up some decent results recently and they’ll be confident, so it’s another game where we have to stop them from playing first of all. The fans can expect another committed performance from us. We’ll look to start the game earlier and be on the front foot more from the moment we kick off.”
“I want to see the players be more competitive and win more of the second balls,” he added. “The things we did in the three games where we got results were really simple, but very effective.
“Colin [West], Lee [Dykes] and I have been going through those games to identify to the players where things were kept simple. We’ve identified the simplicity of the jobs we asked them to do and the easy nature of how they went about playing their game. We need to get back to that.
“Being honest, Burton did to us what we wanted to do to them. They landed on more second balls than we did and they came out on top in the confrontations in the middle areas. They played the ball forward more than we did and some of our players took the safety route and played it square, or backwards, when they could have looked forward.”
“There are always things you try to take out of it and if you’re looking for a reaction, when you’re 4-2 down at half time, I think we got that,” he commented. “We didn’t have anyone who tried to hide and everyone tried to give everything.
“I’m still in a place where I’m getting to know the players and what I can say is that you don’t really find out about them when you’re winning. You start to really see what they are about when you watch how they react on a daily basis after a defeat. The pleasing thing is that lots of players in that changing room are still on board.”
And on how he will get the players to start the games in a positive manner, he said: “We’ve looked at everything in a bid to make sure the players are at it when we start a game.
“We’ve looked at our preparation, our warm up and even down to whether we change the music in the changing room to make it a bit more upbeat, to help the players raise their levels. We want our players to believe there are three points at stake which they can get out there to win right from the first whistle.
“As professionals we know when the players have emptied the tank. The supporters know when it happens and they can see there is something building at the football club. There is a determination and desire to give everything. Whether you're part of the coaching staff or the steward in the car park we want everybody to do their bit. We accept we can't win every game but we can certainly go out there to try to make it happen.
“The fans on Tuesday and at Plymouth will have gone away pleased with the performance. Tuesday night was a fantastic game of football for the neutral and the supporters left knowing the players had given everything. The commitment, application and desire were probably there for the last 65 minutes. If we can get that for the full 90 minutes I don't think many teams will be able to withstand it.”
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