Keith Curle on the build up to the Liverpool game
United manager Keith Curle spoke to us shortly after the Monday training session as the preparations for the trip to Anfield notch up another gear.
Talking first about the draw at York, he said: “There are positives to take from every game we come out of. I have to be honest and say the distraction of having the game on Wednesday against Liverpool, at Anfield, would have played its part.
“We were two up and they went down to ten men and the players in their mind probably thought they only need to do 50% of what we ask them to do, which is pass and move. All we did was pass, but we didn’t move, and that makes it easy for the opposition. We were trying to be clever and conserve some energy, and you just can’t do it.
“There are levels of frustration from what happened but that has been dealt with this morning [Monday]. We identified it so we move on very quickly.”
“There was an eagerness about training which was pleasing to see,” he added. “Now it’s all about the planning and preparation for the game on Wednesday. We have a full complement of players to choose from, apart from Charlie Wyke.
“There’s a good bounce and a good feel about the place and every one of them wants to be involved. We had a physical training session to get the players straight back into work mode. Now it’s about the mental challenges they are going to face. We want to create a very relaxed environment but we also want to see that they know why they’re getting on the coach.”
“As soon as we got the draw we told everyone to embrace it,” he insisted. “I have 24 professionals who are desperate to get in the 18. Out of the 18 they will all be desperate to get in the starting 11. As you can imagine, training has been very competitive and everyone has been very focused on what they have been asked to do.
“We’re going to Anfield as a football department. The youth coaching staff will be on the bus with us to enjoy the atmosphere and the build up. I think it’s important that we all sample it because the reason for all of us coming into work every day is to get occasions like this.
“It’s good to play against the top teams, in their environment, and we can see how we deal with it both on and off the field. There will be a lot of nerves for our players and they will know that the media of the world will be watching. There’ll also be 40,000 or so people there and, let me tell you this, when the Kop cheers it can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
“It’s great that the fans will be part of it as well. I know we will hear the Carlisle United supporters singing and hopefully we’ll give them something to sing about. You don’t need me to tell you how good Liverpool are but we’ll approach it in the same way we always do. We’re going there to try to earn the right to play our brand of football.”
“The atmosphere at Anfield is phenomenal,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced it as a player and the secret is to focus on the fact it’s a game of football. You have to go out there and play the game, not the occasion. You want to make sure you look back on it with pleasure knowing you’ve been involved in it. If you go there with any fear you just don’t perform.
“That will be the message because people who show any kind of fear simply do not perform. We’re going to show them clips of what Liverpool do when they get things wrong. Mistakes do happen and they do concede goals. Can we score against Liverpool? Damn right we can!”
“I know what’s inside Liverpool’s changing room and if they turn up, and they fancy it, it could be a long evening for us,” he admitted. “No matter what happens I know we will have seen a committed performance from our lads.
“If they play at full capacity it will need that from us just to stay in the game. If they take their foot off the gas in any way then we could surprise them. We won’t alter our style of play too much and we’ve looked at the threat they can bring.
“We’ve had the under-21s watched and we’ve seen the European game they played as well. Let’s face it, they’ve got more than enough to do the job. They’ve got some real quality inside that football club. That’s why those players are there and we need to make sure we do everything we can to earn the right to play our style of football.
“We went through how to deal with it and by the time we’d worked out how to stop them we realised we had 13 outfield players and two goalkeepers on the pitch. I think they might notice that! Seriously, though, we will have a game plan and we’ll do what we can to make sure we give them a game to remember as well.”
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