Keith Curle on another positive week
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about a positive week as his side heads into the final three games of the campaign.
“The late equaliser was obviously frustrating but I think, even mathematically, we still wouldn’t have been safe and we’d still have needed another point if we’d won the game,” he said. “We have a six point gap and we’re happy with where we are in the context of the situation we’re in. We’ve still got a massive task ahead because the next two opponents are very good teams. They’re around the play-off area for a reason.
“It’ll be a nervous time for them as well because they need wins. They’ll focus on their own result but I’m sure they’ll also have an eye on what other people are doing. That’s similar to ourselves at our end of the table.”
“The points we picked up over the last week or so have given us a bit of a buffer, but we can't take anything for granted,” he agreed. “It’s a time for dealing with the pressures and the stresses and anxieties the situation brings.
"I went to watch Hartlepool on Tuesday and I saw Ronnie Moore at our game on Wednesday. He’s going through the same nervousness with his group as I am. They started very well in midweek, and then one misplaced pass in midfield brought the nerves right into it like a torrential downpour. They all started to panic and that was just five or six minutes in.
“You try your best to deflect that, and keep it away, but it’s there in the group and they have to deal with it.”
“We’re still looking for positive reactions from our players,” he added. “We started that with the win over Dagenham and then followed it up with a solid display against a very good side on Wednesday.
“We caused them problems, not only with our goal, but with the fact they couldn’t get behind us. The goal they scored came from a lumped ball into the box, a collision and then a lucky rebound. They had the free kick and the penalty, but they didn’t cause us too many problems in open play.
“Defensively we worked as a unit and we got the type of display from Mark Gillespie which was exactly what I’ve been told he was all about. There’s a level of frustration for Mark himself that his injury situation has stopped him from doing that regularly.
“That’s why we’ve offered him a contract where the rewards are there for the more games he plays. He is potentially one of the top three or four goalkeepers in this division and the only negative you can put against him is the amount of games he’s playing on a consistent basis.
“Once he has that back in his favour then I have no doubt he will push on. When it comes down to it the goalkeeper is vital to any team which gets success. The talks are going well with him and there is just one minor area still up for negotiation. We aren’t miles apart and I think it will be sorted quickly.
“We’re still in the latter throes of making the finer tweaks to the last offer we made to Brad Potts as well. That was declined because things weren’t quite right for him, and I don’t mind that. The door hasn’t been closed by either party.”
Going back to on-field matters, and having been in similar positions at the end of the season with other clubs, he said: “It does help because I know what it’s like for the players. I can spot signs of things developing I don’t like, and I can help to stop that.
“To be fair energy wise, and in terms of determination and desire, the players are bang on because they know how important it is. They’ve covered every blade of grass and they’ve shown us they have a lot in the tank.
“We’re trying to create a mentality here where we move on from things that have happened because we can’t do anything about them. We have to learn from things, negative and positive, but it's vital that we also move on.”
“Our job now is to concentrate on what we have to do,” he said. “One thing which still rankles with me from after the Accrington scenario was seeing players come in and immediately have a look for other people’s results on mobile phones, or from other sources.
“That annoyed me because we’d just had 95 minutes to affect our own result, but we hadn’t seen that same level or urgency out on the pitch. The message from me is that all of our energy has to go into what we can do during a game. We shouldn’t be looking for other teams to do it for us.”
On the role of the fans, he said: “I said after the Accrington game that our fans will have a massive part to play in keeping this football club in the Football League. How they reacted to the comments I made after that game was going to be indicative, because we needed a response, not only from the players but from the supporters.
“I knew if we gave the supporters something to cheer about against Dagenham they would back us. That was true, and the fans who went down to Burton will all have been proud to be Carlisle United supporters when they were walking out of the stadium. They saw their players give a committed performance, and that's all you can ask.”
And on the injury to Sean O’Hanlon, he said: “Sean should be fit. Dolly, our physio, is trying to persuade him to wear a swimming cap, but I don’t think he’ll get too far with that!
“I’m sure we’ll come up with some way of protecting the scar because Sean’s modelling days are long gone. I don’t think looks are at the forefront of his thoughts. I won’t insist on the swimming cap ... but we might use it with him in training.
“The injury situation is good and I have a nice complement of players to select from. I’m also able to have a range of options from the bench and that’s a fantastic position to be in at this stage of the season. That’s when it’s over to me to make sure I pick the right combination to get the results.”
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