Keith Curle with reaction to the Stevenage victory
United manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the second away win of the week at Stevenage on Saturday.
“I thought I got it wrong tactically today,” he said. “We got 50 minutes into the game and I really wasn’t happy. Our distances weren’t right when we got forward and we were getting exposed in areas defensively which I really wasn’t happy with.
“That’s because they changed their team and formation and we didn’t really adjust to that as well as I would have liked. We didn’t use the ball well enough but the strength we have in the squad meant we were able to defend solidly and keep them at bay. We can say that we were switched on in that way because we dealt with most of the things they threw at us.
“Massive credit to the players who came off the bench because they enabled us to have more fluidity in our approach and that gave us a bit of a cutting edge. Ultimately that led to our goal.”
“We had to work hard because they have a manager and a team here who are fighting for their lives,” he told us. “They shuffled their pack because they were desperate to break the run they were on.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t anticipate certain things in their midfield but even with that slight error from myself we were able to do what we needed to do. That’s a learning curve for me. Mark Gillespie did his job for the penalty and that was fantastic goalkeeping from him.
“The pleasing thing is that we’re still in this bedding-in period. There’s been a change of personnel and culture inside our dressing room. We’re very demanding as a group and the half time break this afternoon was the most vocal I have been with the players. That’s because I wasn’t happy.
“I knew there was more to come from us and that’s why I addressed them in the way I did. The slight change to our shape gave us a better platform to work from. A clean sheet and three points away from home means you probably got it right overall.”
On the match winning goal from Tom Miller, he said: “I’ve got to say that Tom got a massive blast at half time because I wasn’t happy with what he was doing defensively. I thought he was loose with some of his decision making.
“That shows the character and honesty we have in the group because when I do point something out to them they know it’s for their benefit. Sometimes I’ll look at one of the players and feel they need a rocket because they’re off the pace.
“The best way to respond to that is to ram it down my throat by getting back out there and by doing things properly. Ultimately what Tom did in the second half was tidy up his game. That got him the winning goal into the bargain.
“He wasn’t at his best in the first 45 minutes but I think he would admit that himself. I couldn’t see the incident for the penalty but an attacker is well within his rights to go down if he gets in front of you. His response to what I had to say proves that if you do your job then the extra rewards will come. He has a really good habit of getting into areas where you can score goals and he’s a real threat. His goal today was slightly unorthodox but he was brought to this club with the goal threat he adds to the squad in mind.”
And on the first clean sheet of the season, he said: “I look to win games. It doesn’t matter what the final score is if you get the three points. Ideally we would like to be winning games with clean sheets because that’s another part of the foundation we’re trying to put in place.
“We do want an attack-minded team where the emphasis is on scoring goals. First and foremost we want to be getting those goals, but the more work we do the more the silly little mistakes will be ironed out.
“I think we saw again that the fans are happy with what they’re seeing. There’s an expectancy growing with them now because of the level of commitment they know they’re going to get from their players.
“Things won’t always go our way but the passion and desire is growing in the changing room. Obviously the players are doing it for themselves and for the football club, but it’s also for the level of support they know they’re going to get, both home and away.”
The second half substitute appearance for Alex Gilliead marks the end of his loan spell as he joins up with the England U20 squad for a trip to Germany on Sunday.
“John Nixon and I have spoken to Paul Simpson a couple of times about Alex and Macauley Gillesphey,” he said. “Paul has taken it to the people at his football club.
“They’re more than happy for both players to continue their learning curve with us because they know they’re being well looked after. We send weekly reports on how well they’re doing and we have to say that both players have been a huge credit to Newcastle United with the way they’ve conducted themselves.
“We’ll keep talking and we’ll find out where we’re at over the course of next week. At the moment it’s a time to enjoy what we’ve done this week before we start to think about Morecambe.
“I think it was Dave Wilkes who told me that you get half an hour to enjoy a victory but you spend all week wallowing in defeat. That means I have another 25 minutes or so to enjoy what we’ve got out of two tough games - and then it’s on to the next one!”
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