Keith Curle with reaction to the home win over Crawley Town
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the impressive 3-1 home victory over Crawley Town on Saturday.
“A lot of work went into the preparation this week,” he said. “I include the coaching staff, the players and the scouts who have been out there and watching the games for us in that. Our job is to input the information from the games which have been watched and then put it across to the players in a way they can digest, and then implement our suggestions out on the pitch.
“We spent a lot of time on our team selection for this game because we wanted to make sure we could cause them problems. We’re at a club now where we don’t leave anything to chance. We don’t run sessions to keep players happy. It’s about coaching and learning so that everyone knows their role and responsibility.”
“We went for an orthodox 4-4-2 because we thought it was the right thing to do with the conditions,” he explained. “Let me tell you, it wasn’t an easy decision to play Charlie [Wyke] and Jabo [Ibehre]. In hindsight it looks like it would have been an easy one to make, but bear in mind Derek Asamoah has been on fire.
“It was a day where we felt the two physical strikers would do us a job. We wanted to involve their centre backs in a confrontation they wouldn’t enjoy. I think we saw they didn’t like having to deal with Jabo and Charlie at all. We wanted to give the pair of them something to fight and scrap for and they looked dangerous throughout.
“On another day we would have scored a few more as well because there were a lot of balls which flashed across the face of their goal. We got the ball to Alex Gilliead in the first five minutes and immediately we were thinking – give that young man the ball. He was in the type of mood where you felt something was going to happen every time he got it.”
“I’d say that was the best we’ve started a game since I’ve been at this club,” he commented. “We were on the front foot and rampant for the first 25 minutes, and we were putting the ball into areas they weren’t comfortable with.
“I thought we were very dominant. I’m obviously disappointed with the goal we gave away and that came when we dropped a little deeper and they started to squeeze us. We stopped trying to do the right things and we rightly got a slap in the face for our poor decision making.
“We demanded a professional performance and an understanding of the conditions in the second half. The pleasing thing is I think we got that. We were very safe and assured and I think they only had one skirmish in the box. There’s a feeling now that we’re going to get something every time we get the ball into the opposition box and that’s because we have players who have the understanding that games are won in that area.”
A twelfth of the season for front man Jabo Ibehre takes him into unknown territory, having previously registered a season long personal best at eleven.
“There’s more to come from Jabo,” Curle insisted. “He’s still finding his feet and he’s still getting his legs back. He’s enjoying his football and he’s a big part of the environment he has helped to create along with his fellow professionals.
“We can give them guidance but we have to leave a lot of it to themselves. There’s a spirit in there which is taking them into games with no fear and it’s a fantastic thing to see.”
As to where this level of performance can take the club, he said: “It was a very strong performance but we’re still a long way off from being the finished article. I look at the group and I still think there’s room for improvement.
“I know I’ve got committed players who have a real focus and that will always give us a chance. Being honest, when you have that you have to say that you’re looking for automatic promotion.
“That’s what I’m striving for and I know I have a group of staff and players who are seeking constant improvement. You’ve got to strive to be in the top three this season to win promotion. If it happens, excellent, but if it doesn’t - we won’t be too far away.”
On the absence of Tom Miller, he said: “Tom had a little bit of tightness in his hamstring on Friday. We’re at a stage at the moment where we don’t need to take any risks. If somebody flags up that they think they might have an issue we won’t push the boundaries with it.
“There’s strength in depth so we know we can cover any problems which arise. He takes a pat on the back because he’s shown a level of professionalism by speaking up about it. Missing one game is better than having to miss four or five. He missed out today but hopefully he’ll be back for the Welling game.”
And on the talks with Shrewsbury about a possible extension to the Mark Ellis loan deal, which runs out at midnight tonight, he said: “We’ve left messages for Shrewsbury because we’re trying to conclude the negotiations with them. It’s now just a case of speaking to them directly.
“I’ll get hold of their manager either on Sunday or Monday and we’ll see where we’re at with it. How long he stays with us, if he does stay, will depend on what Shrewsbury require. If it was down to me I’d keep him until the end of the season because he has integrated exceptionally well. As I say, we just have to wait and see.”
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