Keith Curle on the Hartlepool victory at Brunton Park
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Tuesday evening home win over Hartlepool.
“It wasn’t a classic game by any means,” he said. “However, we had some good passages of play and we dealt with the way they tried to make the crowd edgy very well. They were in at us and snapping at our heels and they tried to stop us from building up any momentum.
“You could tell they’d done their homework and we saw that Danny Grainger was marked very tightly. The knowledge of a former player and member of staff will have helped with that level of preparation.
“I thought we defended well and, as I said at the weekend, it’s about results at this stage of the season. We went into the week knowing we had two home games to come on a fantastic playing surface against two very competitive teams. Round one is now complete and we can look forward to a massive game against Mansfield for round two.
“We’re a few points above them now and our objective at the start of the season was to finish comfortably in the top half. That’s still the aim and if that height takes us into the play-offs, then all well and good.”
“I told the players after the game that it was important that we showed professionalism,” he commented. “We had to have the discipline and respect within the game not to go gung ho and we needed to keep our shape.
“No matter what happens, you need those elements to get you through. As I say, it wasn’t a great game to watch but you find with local derby games, especially at this time of the season, that it can go that way.
“Hartlepool didn’t really have anything to play for and they have a management team who have got them safe and out of trouble. It could have been a massive banana skin for us because they will have wanted to put a halt to our play-off aspirations. That meant there was a little bit of nervousness around the place from our supporters so it was important for us to protect our goal and our goalkeeper.
“I think Mark Gillespie only had one shot in each half of any note to deal with, so the performance was a pleasing one. Maybe we got the bit of luck we needed because, apart from the Jabo Ibehre header, we also only had one other shot of note in the second half. That took a deflection and it got us our goal. I think we’ve been owed that because we’ve had quite a bit go against us recently.”
“There was a lot of professionalism and discipline on show tonight which is what you build your foundation on,” he added. “Hartlepool had good possession, but didn't hurt us, and Portsmouth were the same on Saturday. Both teams found it difficult to break us down.
“We're doing everything we can to try and get in the play-offs so Hartlepool would have been trying to get one over on us. All of that made for the fact that it wasn’t a game of entertaining, attractive football. We knew they would play 4-5-1 and be thankful of anything they could get on the break, or from a set-piece.
“It's now just a one point gap to the play-offs which keeps us in the right place mentally and physically. There's a fantastic focus about the group which we've recruited. On training days there’s banter, but when we're coaching they're listening. We haven't got to demand that attention because they are eager to learn.
“The players are enjoying themselves, make no mistake about that. This is a good football club to be at for good reasons. People are saying this club is changing and I like to hear that. I have to say that people inside the club have made a big effort to come on board to help me, and it is very much appreciated.”
On his team selection and the half time substitution and change of shape, he said: “I get paid to make decisions and I don’t owe anybody at this football club anything. I’m here to do a job and make decisions I think are for the betterment of the football team.
“The good thing is I can look at the bench knowing I can change things positively. If that’s what I feel needs to happen I’ll do it. Things weren’t quite working for us so I decided to get Hallam [Hope] on.
“He is a threat. We have 27 professionals who all want to play and they are very capable individuals. Any of them can be in the match day 18 at the drop of a hat and they all know that. If a player isn’t selected on any given day there’s always a reason why.”
United PlayerHD subscribers can see an interview with Keith Curle now. Click HERE to go to the PlayerHD platform. Follow the same link for more information on United PlayerHD, and to subscribe.
to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.