Keith Curle on Oxford United and Brad Potts contract talks
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us ahead of the trip to face Oxford United on Saturday.
“It’s a big game and I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “The vibe I’ve been getting from the changing room is that they’re ready for it as well. It’s a game they want to play in and we have an idea of what we can expect from Oxford.
“I think it’ll be a nervy encounter for both teams. They’ll want a win but they’ll also be desperate not to get beat. I’m not saying that means we’ll go there to play an open and expansive game, but we’ll make it as difficult as we can for them.”
“Our aim on Saturday will be the same as it always is,” he told us. “We go there to stop the opposition so we can earn the right to play. It’s a big pitch, but probably not the best of playing surfaces, from what we’ve seen.
“It’s a big playing area so we need to make it small when we’re out of possession, and then try to make it bigger and utilise the spaces when we have the ball. They’ve got good strengths and they have a real goal threat, even though they haven’t been scoring freely recently. They can cause teams problems and we need to nullify that by using the pitch well.
“They’ll be disappointed with where they are in the league right now because they had some good results earlier in the season. They’re a team that’s been dragged into it and they’re the same as any other team in the bottom half. They’ve lacked that bit of consistency so they’ll be looking to get that back again.”
“We’ve managed to get ourselves into a position where it’s down to what we do and we need that to continue,” he said. “I don’t take my eyes off what we need to achieve until after a game, when I then have a quick reflection on what has happened around us. First and foremost we have to concentrate on our jobs.
“That’s why right now is all about Saturday. The first hour of this game will be a toe-to-toe encounter and what we’ve been finding is that it will come down to an error as to who gets on top.
“You can force errors out of teams by putting balls into the danger areas as much as possible. We’ll try to do that with good quality and understanding of when and where it is going to come in.
“In games like this the ball can be like a hand grenade. What you do is pull the pin, give it to them and see how they deal with it. I can see a lot of games being like that which involve teams at the wrong end of the table. Players will be very careful to put it somewhere safe, when they get it, so it doesn’t blow up in their face.”
“There is nervousness around the bottom nine teams in the division because of where we are at the moment,” he added. “The supporters get edgy, as we’ve seen here, because we’ve been in amongst it for a while. That’s why the role our fans have to play for us now is massive.
“One of the things I’ve picked up on from lots of Cumbrians is their glass being half empty. It was like that when I walked into the club but it’s very slowly starting to change and they’re starting to get more in their glasses.
“It amazes me that Cumbrians do accept their glass being half empty. It’s something I’m trying to embrace because things aren’t all rosy. We know where we are and that’s why I keep telling people to come and support us in the right way.
“Cumbrians do listen as well, and I think they’re starting to see we’re getting somewhere near to the Carlisle United they want. That’s to be playing entertaining, attacking and free flowing football without edginess or nervousness. Like I say, we’re getting there and hopefully all of our glasses will be full sooner rather than later.”
And on the contract negotiations with midfielder Brad Potts, he said: “We’ve had a response from Brad to say he wants to continue with negotiations. Basically that tells us he appreciates the offer the club has made and he now wants to sit down and have a face to face to discuss it further.
“He’s indicated and said publicly that he’s happy here and we just need to make sure we can put a contract in front of him that he’s fully happy with. You don’t want a player to sign a contract only for him to then go on and think it wasn’t what he wanted.
“The advice I’ve given him is to make sure that everything he wants in that contract is there. If he’s happy for his career development to be here then I think it will be the right move for him. You see a lot of players leaving football clubs at the wrong time. Another 6, 12 or 18 months of progression can see them using the next step as another step to go even further.
“He has good natural ability and he’s gaining a lot of understanding during games at the moment. That’s excellent for him, but he’ll find that if he takes that step to the Championship too soon he won’t be afforded that luxury. If you’re seen as a risk in the Championship you don’t get the amount of game time your career development requires.
“I think there’s still a lot more to come from him and there’s a place here for him to learn and develop. He knows he’s not going to get a pot of gold but he will be well rewarded.
“The rewards will be there for him if he hits the targets we think he can achieve. We know we’ll be competing financially with clubs which can offer him higher incentives, but we’re offering rewards which are actual, factual and achievable. That has to be a good thing for him and for us.”
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