Keith Curle on brave decisions and everyone doing their jobs
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about the change of formation which brought a run of three excellent results which culminated in the impressive 2-0 victory over Plymouth at the weekend.
“What we are just starting to develop is a shape and understanding within the group that we’re all comfortable with,” he said. “The biggest decision I’ve had to make recently was when I changed our formation against Dagenham.
“If that had gone wrong then we’d have headed into the Burton game with more of the same. I knew in my mind it was a formation I wanted to play, and I had to be brave enough to make the decision to go with it.
“We only had a short period of time to work on it so I spent a lot of time on the training ground where I identified as many situations and scenarios as I could. I kept it as simple and basic as possible and the foundation of it all was to tell the players to make sure we didn’t get turned. I didn’t want us to get involved in races and it was important for us to keep playing with the ball in front of us.
“We’ve had two wins and a draw since we started doing it and the players can take a lot of praise for that. They’ve had something thrown at them and they’ve been attentive, they’ve asked questions and they’ve given their main answers out on the pitch.”
“You need the players who can play their part to make these things work,” he said. “David Atkinson and Matt Young have come in and fitted in really well, and the resurgence of Patrick Brough on the left hand side has been important.
“When I first came in he started very well and then he had a bit of a dip with some form on injury. He came back from that and he’s done really well. Jason Kennedy and Paul Corry gave us a bit of balance and Gary Dicker became available at a time when we really needed him.
“People could ask if the system would be as effective if we had Troy [Archibald-Henville], Sean O’Hanlon and Danny Grainger in there because, as it is, we have a dominant header of the ball supported by a full back either side. There’s a willingness with that to take the ball in and distribute it, and it looks a good fit. However, I know I can go to a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 at the drop of a hat.
“I know our supporters want to see wing play and they like to see width with balls played into the box. Part of the education now is also for the crowd to understand we can’t always press the ball as high up the pitch as we would like to. Sometimes you have to fill areas, nullify the opposition and hit back on the break with the likes of Brad Potts, Kyle Dempsey and Derek Asamoah.
“It’s coming together but, and as we’ve said a number of times since I got here, we are very much a work in progress. Hindsight is a fantastic thing and I can be honest and tell you there have been times, particularly early on, when I’ve wished I could bring in seven or eight new players. That’s because we’ve had five, six, seven or eight of ours who haven’t been performing.
“Experience tells me they will come again and, fair play to them, they’ve done that. The really frustrating thing is that I’ve seen enough in training to know this football club, with the players it has here, should have finished comfortably mid-table.
“I don’t think, with the start they had, there’d have been enough for anything better than that this season and the relegation from last season did have a hangover effect. The initial response to me coming in was fantastic and I could have brought an influx of players in of the calibre I thought I needed right away.
“However, I was determined to give everyone a chance to perform and I’ve been able to have a good look at everybody inside this football club. A lot of them have earned the right to be here. Part of my development is that I’m mature enough as a manager and a coach to say that I do make mistakes. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and admit that.”
And on his own contract situation, he said: “I think everyone knew my situation and I don’t have a problem with that. It was never going to change how I deal with things.
“Players know their contracts are up at the end of the season and it’s how they react to that. I don’t change how I manage if I’ve got a five year contract or a six month contract. The decisions I make are footballing decisions designed to win games.
“As a manager you know your work position is reviewed Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday continuously through the season. That’s the nature of the job and you have to be able to cope with the pressures that come with it.
“I’m trying to build a reputation for myself at this football club and I know I don’t just get judged on the Saturday’s when we win. I’m not a good manager if we win and I’m not a bad manager if we lose. I’m trying to develop a culture that sees the club being progressive and that means we will all be successful as we head along that route.”
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