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MANAGER: Back to playing the way we know we can

9 April 2015

Keith Curle on the reaction to his Accrington post match comments

Manager Keith Curle spoke to us today about the reaction he expects to see following his post-Accrington comments about the poor performance on Monday.

“I wasn’t surprised that a manager coming out and saying something negative was jumped on nationally by the media,” he said. “It was my opinion that the performance level didn’t meet the level of support we got on Monday and I asked the players in the dressing room how I was supposed to go out and defend them in the post match interviews.

“A lot of coaches and managers protect the players week in and week out over performances that aren’t acceptable. Everyone who travelled to Accrington saw an inadequate performance which wasn’t worthy of being deemed professional.

“The players acknowledged there was no defence of that and my reaction was done with the blessing of every person in that dressing room. I’ve told them before when I was going to go out and protect them, look after them and draw a veil over things. They know I don’t finger point for the sake of it. Some managers will rant and rave for 30 or 35 minutes and all that does is make him feel good as he leaves an absolute bomb site behind him.”

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed about being at this club so far is that I’ve been able to do everything with honesty,” he told us. “I said I wanted to be honest with our supporters and they’ve responded to that. As I say, I spoke to the players about it and they told me they wanted me to keep that level of honesty and say it how it was. 

“That’s exactly what I did, with the understanding the players agreed with doing it. They knew the goals we gave away were embarrassing and they knew they were well below par. I said the things I said because I know we need to get a reaction. The lads aren’t happy with what they did and they knew they’d let everyone down.”

“I think we’ll get the reaction we want,” he insisted. “The players need the supporters from now until the end of the season but, first and foremost, they’ve got to earn that support. They get that through effort, willingness to work and by doing the horrible side of the game. If the fans see that out on the pitch they’ll back us all the way.”

“I see that we have good players with real ability here every day of the week,” he told us. “When you watch them go out and play like they did on Monday, it hurts. I care about these players but sometimes you simply can’t defend them.

“They had to know the way they played wasn’t acceptable for this football club. It’s since been picked up by a lot of press and media and that has put the spotlight on the players. They have to handle it and go on to play the way we know they can. 

“Everything we do is about getting the best out of them. Sometimes criticism has to be taken on board and, if you feel it’s been negative, make sure you turn it into a positive. If you’re being criticised you have to deal with it, accept it and move on. It isn’t personal, it’s for professional reasons.”

“I don’t think you can ever keep saying ‘well done’ to failure,” he explained. “What I did on Monday wasn’t a knee jerk reaction. There comes a point where you have to tell people they simply aren’t doing what you need them to do. 

“All of our players have careers we hope will progress from here. They need to learn that mistakes made at the bigger clubs are highlighted nationally every day, because there are cameras everywhere they turn. Those players at that level of the game have to deal with that and bounce back immediately. If they don’t they are quickly out of the side. As I say, our players have to show they can cope with this and get back to playing the way we know they can.”

On the reaction he wants to see now, he said: “I think there’s an acceptance that the position we’re in means we have to adopt a certain level of aggression. That’s everything from 50:50 tackles to decision making, passing and movement. 

“Whatever is done, it has to be done with belief and desire. When things aren’t going well, players can become a little bit hesitant. That can then be interpreted as them not really trying or caring. We’ve now told them to get out there and perform without that fear factor. They’ve had their telling off, so now it’s over to them to go and produce.

“I’ll build them up from here so that we go out on Saturday with a positive mindset. I know we have players here who could be in teams challenging for play off places. They’ve got to start believing that of themselves and, more importantly, they’ve got to prove it.”

“I know there’s been criticism from some areas for me criticising the players in public, but it was done with the knowledge and backing of the dressing room,” he confirmed. “They’ve since held their own meetings, without any of the coaching staff present, and that shows they want to put this right. 

“What we hope for now is to see the level of honesty I bring to the table replicated by them. They’re better than what they showed at Accrington but only they can show us that. The message we expect to see coming out of those meetings is that there will be a willingness to tell people when they aren’t doing their jobs. 

“I had about 25 seconds of their time before they started their own meeting because I wanted them to do all of it themselves. I told them my office is the dumping ground for negativity. I don’t want to see or hear any of that in the changing room. 

“If they feel hard done by, or unhappy, come to my office and let’s do it there so we can really start to build on the positive energy we need to get the points which will keep us in this league.”

On the absence of Patrick Brough from the playing squad on Monday, he said: “We did have a situation with Patrick which wasn’t football related. 

"It was a personal family issue which doesn’t need to be in the public domain at this stage. It was a concern to Patrick at the time so he wasn’t able to play."

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.

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