Keith Curle with reaction to the Oldham friendly
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Saturday friendly victory over Oldham.
“There is a lot for us to be pleased about,” he said. “Getting victories helps to build momentum and it makes it easier for people to buy in to what you’re trying to do.
“Ultimately results in pre-season are secondary because what we’re trying to do is get the players into a style of play we’re comfortable with. We also want to see direction and good understanding of when we want to be a passing team, and then when we want to be a possession team with some forward thinking.
“So, yes, there are a lot of pleasing things but there are also things we can still improve on. Sometimes there are options we can take other than those we have been choosing, but that will come.”
“As I said during the week, the crowd are going to have a massive part to play because there will be times when passes do go astray and when we will take the wrong option,” he continued. “Personally I’m going to carry on encouraging the players to play the way I want them to play. You can be surprised sometimes when the simpler you want to do things, the harder it becomes.
“Not turning down the simple pass is something we’ve been working on in training. We’ve been getting the players to respect the simple pass and to keep things moving. If you take football back a long way you hear people talk about pass and move. That’s excellent, and it hasn’t changed. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel because all we want is to play football on the ground by passing and moving the ball round.”
“One of the other things we’ve tried to bring into the team is a little bit of pace and guile, and the ability to get from box-to-box and to turn a defensive shape into an attacking formation,” he explained. “Without getting too technical, we’ve also been working on how to counter the counter-attack.
“That means we have to keep the back door shut as well. We’re doing a lot of work now on 11v11 which is something I probably didn’t do enough of last season. I’ve picked that up this pre-season and it’s been about me going into the sessions with topics or objectives I want them to achieve.”
“The second goal we scored against Oldham is something else we’ve been working on – distribution from the keeper based on what he sees,” he commented. “Sometimes that means taking risks. We don’t want to be a team where we get set up and the goalkeeper then boots it into a melee of players. You don’t know who will come out with it when that happens, so we’re moving away from that.
“We want to be progressive and we want to move the ball as quickly as possible, predominately in wider areas where people can become an attacking threat. We know if we can get Patrick [Brough] or some of the other wide players into good positions then they can deliver quality.”
“The third goal typified that as well,” he added. “The game was crying out for somebody to be able to play the ball long and Courtney [Meppen-Walter] stepped in to do that. He still has a part to play, as have all of the players who are in the squad at the moment. I can see slots and positions for everybody.”
On the goals coming from his forwards and attacking midfielders, he said: “Front players like scoring goals and I don’t think it matters what system you play, you need to have rewards for players, not only by winning games but from them creating and scoring goals. We’ve scored seven in the last two fixtures against very good opposition and that bodes well.
“One of the disappointing things we do need to work on is stopping crosses from getting into our box. That’s something we’ve highlighted and we’ll work on it this week. Our whole pre-season has been geared around getting the foundations of how we want to play in place. We are by no means complete yet, but we have a good group who are enjoying training and they are being given the freedom to express themselves.”
And on the week ahead, he said: “We go into the normal structured football week now that we’re heading into the season. That means training on Monday and Friday afternoons, as we would do anyway, and having a Wednesday as down time.
“Added to that are the bounce games and we start that off with a behind closed doors fixture on Tuesday. Nicky Walker will get time in that and we’ll have another trialist.
“Scouts will be informed of the players who will be playing and we’ll also tell those who think they won’t be getting the game time they need to get their agents to invite people along as well. It’s one we will look at as a training session but against a very competitive team.
“We’re coming to the close of a tough pre-season but the players have kept a smile on their faces. That’s good to see because if you can work hard and enjoy it then that’s one of the pillars you want as a foundation of your football club.
“I’m happy with 95% of the players, there are one or two who could be in better physical condition, but overall we are in a really good place. I’ve said it before, there are players who can give us options and, if they carry on as they are, we’re going to cause teams problems this season.”
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