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MANAGER: We need to start as we finish

22 October 2014

Burton Albion match reaction from Keith Curle

Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the enthralling Burton game shortly after full time on Tuesday night.

“I think if you score three goals at home then you would expect to get a favourable result,” he said. “If you give teams a head start, in the way we did, then it will always be a mountain to climb.

“Having said that, the attitude, application and never say die approach we had in the second half needs to be the way we start games. We have to go out with that belief and confidence. For some reason people don’t start to show that bit of character until something is lost. 

“I’m thinking about what I can change in the preparation we do to make them think we’re 2-0 down before it even starts. At the moment if we’re two down, or we go behind, that’s when we show our true colours.

“I know we have a fragile changing room there that needs to be nurtured. The rewards are there, they’ve seen that with the three victories, and you could tell there was buoyancy around the football club. The belief is still in there and we don’t want to lose that.”

“At the moment I’m really pleased with how we’re finishing games,” he continued. “That shows we have belief in the simplicity of what we’re doing. 

“If you look at the goals they scored, they are all our errors. It was almost like shoot on sight for both teams at the start of the game and there were a few contenders for goal of the month. On our part, we had people making wrong decisions, but we’re asking them to make decisions so we’ll accept that.

“Errors are part and parcel of the game but you find that mistakes do get punished when you’re near the bottom. They have to learn from the decisions they’ve made, keep it simple and sometimes, because of how simple it is, you find that it works.”

“The goal at half time didn’t really change the way we approached the team talk,” he told us. “When you go 3-1 down or 4-2 down you still know the next goal is vital. If it comes your way you know could then go on to get something out of the game. 

“We got the goal and we looked to pile the pressure on, but we didn’t quite have enough to get the equaliser. Derek [Asamoah] came on and showed good pace and awareness and we just needed that little bit extra as a team. You get that by doing the simple things well. We didn’t do that at the start of the game and we gave a very good team a two goal start. 

“Credit to the players because they came out in the second half and they didn’t hide. They played on the front foot with the belief we could get a goal back. I always thought we were going to score but we needed to have the impetus to do it. What I’ve got to do now is to get the players to start games in that same way. 

“I don’t think we got into the right areas anywhere near enough in the first half. We need to be continuing the momentum of attack when we’re in the opposition half because, if we can keep it going, teams will eventually crack.”

“This week will be about concentrating on the positives of what we got out of the second half,” he said. “We can go right back to the Mansfield game and we see that we finish games really well. The fitness levels, mental approach and attitude are all there. We now need the belief and simplicity in our play so that we don’t complicate the game and we keep doing our jobs. We’ve ended up losing in the right way but it doesn’t make it feel any better.”

On Asamoah’s debut appearance, he said: “It was a good goal from Derek but that’s what he’s about. He’s still nowhere near the fitness levels which will see him firing on all cylinders but he has that pace and tenacity, and he’s prepared to gamble. If I’m being realistic we’ve probably used him a week ahead of where I would have really wanted, but he showed he’s going to be an asset for us.

“It was a difficult night for Georg [Iliev] but the rude awakening to real, live football in the second division will have done him good. It’s not pretty at this level and sometimes you’re playing against physical players. It can be a cut and thrust atmosphere. You need to be prepared to take the knocks to earn your rewards. That’s something we’ll work on with him.”

“We’ve talked about the individual errors but we take responsibility as a team,” he insisted. “We work for each other and that’s something we will try and build on. It could be somebody else who makes mistakes next week and we don’t want to be scared of making them. I don’t castigate players for it because it’s part and parcel what we do. 

“What we will do is identify when we could have simplified things and make sure we get that into the mindset. Again, their goals weren’t from intricate play, they were from us losing the ball and letting them have a bit of shooting practice.

“We had a bit more of an experienced look to the starting line up and I was mindful that we had players I still needed to have a look at. It was good to see them in a competitive game and I did want to freshen things up in the right areas as well. Troy [Archibald-Henville] played like a man mountain on Saturday and he picked up a slight injury, so he was never in contention at all. He’ll probably struggle to make Saturday.

“We have Paul Thirlwell who took a knock, and Sean O’Hanlon ended the game with a limp. There are a lot of wounded bodies in there. They were prepared to go that extra yard in the second half and, to do that, you’re going to take knocks. We had no injury concerns whatsoever at half time because we didn’t get close to anybody.”

“It’s another night where we’ve learned a lot,” he commented. “I love the way we finish games. I don’t like the way we’re starting and I know that comes from belief. We’ll go back to the training pitch and we’ll look to implement the things we do well as much as possible. 

“I might even try a bit of hypnosis to see if I can get the players to think they’re two down before kick off. That way we might see the fantastic attitude we get when we’ve finished games right from the first whistle. We’re in a results business and, with that in mind, we need to start in the right manner to give ourselves a better chance of getting the points.”

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.

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