MANAGER: Still taking small steps

The manager on friendlies and trial players

Manager Keith Curle spoke to us at his Thursday press conference about the behind-closed-doors game at Newcastle and the trialists who took part in that fixture.

“We've had a good week,” he said. “As you can imagine there’s a bit of buoyancy around the place because of the result on Saturday. 

“We're taking small steps at the moment and gaining confidence within the changing room. That comes from things we do in training and our preparation for games. We've made little changes that are all geared towards a positive outlook to enable us to get three points on a Saturday.” 

“There is a belief in the changing room - it doesn't come from one game, but there is a belief and an understanding there now,” he told us. “The players know how we like to train. I think they've picked that up from Colin [West] and myself very quickly. We expect high standards and punctuality because the more they put in during the week the more likely they are to get their rewards on a Saturday.”

Looking back at the game at Newcastle on Tuesday, he said: “That was a tough one but I learned a lot from it. I had pencilled one player into the starting 11 for Saturday, on Monday morning, but the performance I saw from him on Tuesday stopped me from making a mistake. 

“I told the players on Monday the result against Newcastle was immaterial. Those games aren't about the results, it's about individual performances. If the other team has the ball I want to see determination to get it back. The biggest thing I took from the game is that our training sessions are based on possession but for some reason, when we go into a game situation, we give the ball away. 

“Players aren't adhering to what we're doing in training. What we like to do is keep the ball until we have an opportunity to take a strike at the opposition goal but we were trying to play percentage balls on Tuesday. 

“These friendly games are something we are looking to do on a more regular basis. Players can look good on paper and in training but you really find out what sort of player they are when things aren't going their way in game situations. These things are performance based and it’s important for me to see how all of our players deal with it.”

“None of the trialists have shown me enough to make me want to offer them a deal at this stage,” he confirmed. “I spoke to the people at one of the clubs we took trialists from and they said it was maybe the wakeup call the players needed. 

“We're a club which is one point adrift at the bottom of League Two and we aren't snapping hands off to take any of them. We’ve thanked the players for coming because, at this particular time, we aren't ready to take them on board.”

And on the speculation over Clinton Morrison, he said: “We’ve still got a couple of players with us. Clinton Morrison is a player I've known for a long time. 

“What I liked about Clinton back in the day is that when I played against him and kicked him he would squeal then come and kick me back. He wasn't the type of player who would disappear and change position to get away from you. He was confident, arrogant and egotistical, which is everything you want from a centre forward. 

“He has mellowed slightly but his desire to score goals is still there. He has that sort of personality that winds people up, which I like, because it keeps people on edge. He was going to play in the game on Tuesday then I found out he was training with Hartlepool. I think that was just a case of killing two birds with one stone because both clubs are a long way north for him. 

“I nearly signed him at Notts County but he chose to go to Colchester, for a longer deal on better money, which I totally understood. If there is an opportunity to fit Clinton into the pay structure we have here then I will do that, as long as I'm happy with his fitness. We’ll have to wait and see.”

“We obviously want to thank Newcastle for having us the other day,” he told us. “The facilities are phenomenal and they've got staff who have staff working for them. Newcastle would enjoy playing on our training pitch, it’s fantastic, but we do need another one.  

“Once you see what they have, six or seven training pitches which are spirit level flat, you understand the stick Alan Pardew has been getting. He isn't winning games even though he's got all of that at his disposal. That's where I want to be. I want to have that sort of pressure and that level of expectation. I told John Nixon that and he said it's coming for us.” 

United Player subscribers can see a series of video interviews with Keith Curle now. Click HERE to go to the Player platform. Follow the same link for more information on United Player, and to subscribe.

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.
Read Time: 5 mins