Keith Curle with reaction to the victory at Hartlepool
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to a gritty and deserved victory against Hartlepool on Saturday afternoon.
“I think you have to say what a derby game that was,” he said. “It was a good encounter between two teams who knew what was at stake. They knew about the amount of pride involved in games like these and we also knew our following would be here in numbers.
“If I’m being honest, I don’t think we performed as well as we have been football wise. However, football does go out the window in this type of game sometimes. It becomes all about the result and things can get caught up in that.”
“We used the result from Tuesday night as a catalyst because we know there’s a strength growing within this group,” he told us. “The more positive results we get the stronger we will become.
“I have to mention again the work camp we did with Cassius Camps in the summer. That was about physically and mentally pushing the boundaries and limits. It asked us to be more demanding of the group and we’re getting that. That’s why we’re seeing the players give absolutely everything they have.”
On the penalty decision which put Hartlepool ahead in the second half, he said: “I don’t have any quibbles about the penalty at all. I thought it was the right decision because you can’t obstruct somebody in the box with your arms around them.
“They got that and they scored from it, but the reaction from our players to going behind again was awesome. There’s still work for us to do because up until our third goal we still hadn’t managed to get in front in any of our league games so far. Once we start getting that right we’re going to be a hard team to beat.”
“I think it could have been 3-3 on chances at the end of the first half with the way things were going,” he commented. “We knew we needed to tidy ourselves up because we were in a derby game and we were playing into their hands.
“There were times in the first half when we abandoned what we wanted to do. We didn’t try to play out from the back and we made it very hard for ourselves. The message I gave them during the break was to play the game the way we wanted to.
“I know there will have been raised eyebrows before kick off because of the team selection but you have to remember I see these players every day of the week. We set up to be an attacking threat and we had both Danny Grainger and Tom Miller having shots on goal from their wing back positions.
“They both have goals in them and the way Tom stepped inside and got his today was just a great finish. It was a typical derby day goal because they often come from strange places in these games.
“In Jabo Ibehre we seem to have a centre forward who knows where the goal is. We appreciate the work he does to get into the right areas to get his chances in the first place, and they’ll keep coming for him if he carries on like this.
“Every team wants a good striker. He’s a very professional player and he is earning the right to score goals. He’s a big man who is enjoying his football and he has a smile on his face.”
“I think overall we’re getting the reward from doing a lot of 11v11 work in training this season,” he said. “I’ve changed the coaching programme to bring that in because there’s no better way for the players to learn than to get an understanding of their roles and responsibilities in different scenarios as they play a game.
“When I first came into the club I thought there was a naivety in our play and a lack of understanding of what was needed. We have a new collective of players now and it’s my job to make sure they understand the roles and patterns I want.
“The players have bought into it and within every coaching session we will spend 25 minutes or so talking about our responsibilities. We’re getting the ball down and playing football and we’ve come up with the right mix of players at the right time in what was an important game for us.”
“People are saying don’t get too carried away, but I say why not?” he concluded. “Let’s embrace it, because we’re doing well. We’re going to get blips along the way but we’ll deal with them.
“I know these fans will stick with us if we keep giving 100%. They’re getting that in abundance and they’re also getting some good football to watch. They’ve gone home again with smiles on their faces and I’m delighted for them. They deserve this and hopefully we’ll keep it going for them consistently, because I do think they’re enjoying the way we’re trying to play the game at the moment.”
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