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MANAGER: Happy with what we're asking the players to do

21 August 2015

Keith Curle on expansive football, Meppen-Walter and Colin West

Manager Keith Curle spoke to us at his Friday afternoon press conference ahead of the visit of AFC Wimbledon tomorrow.

Talking first about the disappointing result at Plymouth, he said: “Looking back, we had a lot of positives to take from it. We earned the right to play our game, we got a good foothold and we were able to play the kind of football we’re happy with.

“As we said on Tuesday, if they’d gone in 3-1 down at half time they wouldn’t have had any complaints at all. Their manager said after the game that we caused them issues, so much so they changed their shape to try to match us. 

“Their goals didn’t come from us being dismantled or from them playing through us. They came because we pulled a pin out of a hand grenade and then kept hold of it until it exploded. We are asking players to be brave but we also want them to take the right options.”

“What we can’t plan for is players slipping over,” he continued. “I think back to the Steven Gerrard incident. There’s a player who is paid thousands ... millions, and he will tell you there was no way he wanted to slip over in the way he did. It’s just something that happens.

“The lads were disappointed about it.  We can’t plan for it but if there is a slippery surface then take every precaution you can to counter it. Wear the longest studs you possibly can. Sometimes it’s not about comfort or fashion, it’s about practicality. It’s a lesson learned and we now know that if we’re playing on a surface where the grass is short and it’s a little bit slippery then we’ll be wearing high heels!”

“One criticism I do have about us defensively is that we left a few holes at the back by being a little bit too expansive at times,” he said. “I still want the defenders to be ready to step in and help out, but I want that to be a supporting role rather than a starring role. 

“At one point on Tuesday night we had our right sided centre back under-lapping to get into their box. That’s great willingness but perhaps not what we need within the system we play.

“I’m happy with what we’re asking the players to do. We’ll see on Saturday, we have another slight adaptation of my take on the system we want to use. There’ll be rotation and a little bit of a change of personnel. 

“It’s early days and we’re still nurturing our style of play. It is different and the players are adapting to it. We’ve gone over it and the theme of how we want to play hasn’t changed.”

On the hamstring injury picked up by defender David Atkinson, he said: “He’s had his scan and that has confirmed he has a tear in his hamstring. He’ll be out for a number of weeks with that.
“We have one or two other slight issues but we’re hoping everybody else will be available for selection for the squad on Saturday.”

On the return of Courtney Meppen-Walter from his trial spell with Bolton, he said: “There was a request from his agent to see if he could go back there for another week. Basically I said no to that. If they want him on loan they can take him, and that would give them a month to have a good look at what he can do. 

“I spoke to him yesterday and he told me he enjoyed his time there. He said he didn’t feel he was fully able to express himself because of their match preparations and he would like the opportunity to go back there again. If something can happen then I won’t stand in his way. 

“The door hasn’t been shut on him here but I know there are certain changes he needs to make to keep himself in contention. As of right now there hasn’t been any further approach to take him back down there on loan.”

And on the return to the training ground of Colin West, he said: “Colin is back in today and he’ll be up in the stands for me tomorrow. He’ll be involved in the preparations and he’ll be able to give us a different point of view on the game. He’s my assistant manager, that hasn’t changed, and he’ll do his job as he always has.

“I think it’s been good for me to go back to my basics in that I love coaching. I’ve got a vision of how I want the game to be played and it was important that I was able to get that message across to the players. There needed to be one voice for that.

“I can’t do everything and I’m in an environment now where people want to help. Colin is here to do that with me. That’s massive for me because the support I’m getting from people inside the football club is fantastic.”

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