Keith Curle ahead of the trip to Mansfield Town
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about the opening day trip to Mansfield at his pre-match press conference.
“It’s been a difficult task to hone the starting eleven for Saturday but that’s because of the quality we have in the squad,” he told us. “The good thing, as I’ve said before, is I know I’m putting square pegs in square holes with the formation I’m going with.
“Likewise I know if I need to change formations within the game I can do it. Like I say, sorting the starting eleven hasn’t been an easy pick, and that’s pleasing. That tells me Lee Dykes has been doing his job.
“We’ve built a squad of players who can help us to play any formation you care to mention, and they will all be in positions they know how to play. That’s a good place to be. There’s crispness and a sharpness about the players. That’s because you can tell they all want to start and travel.
“The competitive edge to training has gone up and it’s been excellent. We’ve seen proper match day tackles and that’s how I want it to be. If we’re doing it in training we’re more likely to do it on a Saturday.”
“Our aim first and foremost this season is that we want to be a progressive football club,” he explained. “I’m confident we’ll be competitive and our aim is to finish higher than what we did last season.
“People will tell us that isn’t too difficult but it would be silly of me to walk in, with all of the new players we have in the building, and start shouting about promotion. Every team in this division is aiming to finish top.
“Ultimately you finish where you deserve to finish. This season I’m confident that where we deserve to finish will be higher than last time round.”
And on what we can expect from Mansfield, he said: “We’ve done our homework in the same way as Adam Murray has done his.
“I’ve seen them a couple of times and Lee [Dykes] has been to see them as well. We have a general idea of what to expect because they will want to play a high tempo pressing game where they get the ball forward quickly.
“They have good energy, pace and movement and good direction in their play. We need to nullify their strengths, that hasn’t changed from last season, and we can then find their weaknesses to try and exploit them.”
“We want to see the things we’ve been working on in pre-season come into the game on Saturday,” he continued. “We’re in a results industry, and they do count, but you don’t win a league on the first game of the season. It’s about seeing that the team is doing the things you need to do to push on.”
“It’s always good to go back to Mansfield,” he said. “I started my managerial career there as a player manager at 38 or 39 years old. I very quickly realised I didn’t enjoy it.
“I moved to just being the manager the following season and that’s when I started to enjoy it. We went to the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium and Mansfield was like a ghost town that day because everyone was there with us.
“I’ve got some fantastic memories from my time there and I’m still in contact with a lot of the players I worked with. We built up a unity and a bond and we had a lot of respect for each other. That’s what I’m trying to build here.
“I want players who enjoy coming to work and that’s something I try to create at every football club I go to. I know the more positive results I get the more people will come on board. I don’t shy away from the fact I need as many people as I can to get on board for us to be successful.”
“My message to the fans ahead of the new season is to enjoy it,” he concluded. “Come and enjoy the way we’re trying to play football. There will be mistakes along the way but I ask our supporters not to get off the bus.
“We’re going to try and entertain but ultimately we know we have to win games. The good thing is they have a manager, a staff and a football club who want to be competitive in everything they do.
“Selection wise I have one player who has a stiff back. That’s something he woke up with and it was nothing to do with training. He slept slightly funny and it sent his back into spasm. Sitting on a coach for three hours wouldn’t help that so he won’t travel. Other than that it’s a clean bill of health.”
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