Keith Curle with reaction to the Plymouth away game
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the away defeat at Plymouth on Tuesday night.
“It was a fantastic first 35 minutes,” he said. “We had a game plan and we got a shape which caused them problems. I think we had four good chances where we could have scored and some of the passages of play were excellent.
“From there a defender slipped and the ball ends up in the back of our net from a rifled shot. That isn’t nice medicine, but you’ve got to take it. I don’t like it when you’ve had the large majority of the game and you go into the break at one down. However, you have to accept it and make sure you don’t panic.”
“The second goal came from poor defending at the near post zone,” he added. “That’s something we’d worked on and something we’d given the players information about.
“We knew they had players who would try to cause distractions in those situations and we had Charlie Wyke in there who didn’t do his job. That allowed them to score and it gave them a huge lift.”
“The third goal was another player slipping, and the fourth came because a player didn’t know what was around him. He tried to receive the ball on the half way line and he got caught, so they were able to break.
“We’ve had a slap in the face tonight and the lads have been told that’s what can happen when these things come along to hurt them.”
“There are very simple things in there we can remedy and tidy up,” he insisted. “We have got to take the positives out of it. We gave a very good team lots of problems in the first half and we didn’t take the opportunities we created.
“We did have some opportunities in the second half but, as I say, in the end it came down to the errors we made which allowed them to score their goals.
“The alarming thing is you could understand it if a team was slicing through you because of their intricate play, or their tactical awareness. It’s very difficult to legislate against players slipping, or not knowing where they are and then not doing their job.
“We’ll spend a little bit more time on set pieces and nail down the responsibilities, because it isn’t complicated. Have I got to go to the extremes of checking footwear? I would say no because the players do the warm up and they go through their preparations. It’s very difficult to coach against the inevitability of a player slipping.”
“The important thing is that we don’t get off the bus,” he commented. “Sometimes you find out more about a team after a defeat. That’s what this is going to be about now. We’ll regroup and we’ll work on the positive and negative factors which came out of this game.
“We’ve obviously got to look at the goals we’ve conceded because we don’t want it to keep happening. Having said that, the scoreline doesn’t reflect the dominance we had in that first 40 minutes. The game could have been out of sight before they scored, and that would have been justified if it was the case as well.”
On the starting eleven choices he made, he said: “Team selection is my job and I do look at everyone who is available within the systems I want to play. I’m in a results industry and I need to get results.
“I thought Patrick Brough needed a rest after the weekend. That was the same with Bastien Hery. Both of them have a lot of pitch time and, in Bastien’s case, he hasn’t played back to back 90 minutes for a long time.
“We wanted to play with two sitting midfield players so that we could drag their players out and cause them problems. It worked a treat in the first half but we just didn’t take our chances. If Jabo Ibehre’s header had gone in, instead of hitting the post, it could have been a completely different game. Goals do change things and they got theirs at a good time for them. I think they knew they were lucky to go in at half time at 1-0 up.”
Speaking about the need to put things right at the weekend, he said: “I don’t put pressure on the players but there is an air of expectancy around the football club. We’ve got to live with that.
“Part of what we’re trying to build on is the willingness to make mistakes, but not to be fearful of them. Nobody wants to slip over and be made to look a fool but sometimes you need to make decisions on the ball earlier so the slip, when it comes, doesn’t matter as much.
“We have things to iron out but we also have areas where we know we’re getting there. We’re pleased for Joe Thompson that he got his first goal for the club. Scoring so late showed that we will keep going even when it’s an uphill struggle.”
And the United boss confirmed that the initial scan diagnosis for defender David Atkinson had revealed a tear.
“David has a tear in his hamstring so we’re going to let that settle down for two or three days and then we’ll be able to tell you how long he’s going to be out. He’s missed a couple of games with that now so we’ll wait and see how it goes.
“Courtney Meppen-Walter will come back to us now. Bolton asked if they could extend the period they have with him, to look at him a bit more, but we’ve refused that request. They’ve had enough time, in our opinion, to look at what he has to offer so the ball has been put back in their court. If they want to look at him longer they need to take him on loan.”
His final word was for the 169 fans who made the journey to support the team on what became a disappointing evening.
“It’s an excellent effort from our fans again,” he said. “Even at 3-0 down the only people you could hear in the ground were our fans. That is absolutely magnificent.
“They obviously wouldn’t have enjoyed watching the latter stages of the game but I’m sure they did enjoy the first 40 minutes or so. That’s something for us to build on.
“It’s a phenomenal turnout and it’s very much appreciated by everyone at the club. We made sure the players went over to see them all because that was the least they deserved with the way the game went.
“Sky Bet have been very generous in their offer to pay for their travel expenses and it would have been good to get a gesture from the Football League as well. It’s unbelievable how a fixture gets thrown up like this, but our fans have shown again that they’ll follow their team whatever the circumstances.”