Keith Curle on the Oxford United game
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the last home game of the season shortly after full time on Saturday.
“That was a disappointing way to round off the season at home," he said. “We were still competitive, but I'm going to be honest and say at times we lacked quality. We had some good passages of play and got into the final third, but we did lack a little bit of quality.
“Passes went astray and we were tentative, but we know we still need to improve. We need to be better and we need to make better decisions with the ball. Our pass selection needs to be better and the passes need to be crisper. We also need to be more clinical and more aggressive.
“It was a committed performance but we came up short in the final third. The game did swing on the penalty appeal we had because I think it was a definite penalty. The cross from Danny [Grainger] was stopped by an arm or a hand which was above shoulder height and away from his body. That has to be a penalty from my point of view, but I am obviously slightly biased.
“On the flip side, their penalty was disappointing because it came from our set play. We have worked on putting people in the right positions to counter the counter-attack, so we need to be doing our jobs better and understanding what our roles are.
“It became one where if we’d scored when we had that level of momentum we would have kicked on. There was a good period in the second half when it was all us and there was a flow to our play. We needed a break, we didn’t get it, but we showed good energy levels and we took the game to them.”
“I’m not going to hide away from the fact I know we need to improve,” he added. “We need to be more clinical in the opposition 18 yard box and we need to make better decisions. Some of our passing was too slow and there was frustration at our tempo, and I fully understand that.
“Changes needed to be made at half time to get us more of a foothold in the game and make us an attacking threat. With their left back going off we thought we could cause them more problems. Charlie Wyke took a knock on his ankle but Derek Asamoah was ready to come on and his fresh legs were another threat that we were able to throw into the ring.
“There is a level of frustration that we didn’t get anything but we have to remember we've taken massive strides to get to mid-table. We now need better quality to get into the upper reaches. I said before the game that it was a no-lose situation for us. Oxford are a yard-stick, they're in the promotion places, but I don't think they came here today and out-played us.
“They were more clinical than we were and they got the rub of the green with the penalty, but apart from that they had one shot on target in the second half and scored.”
On the inclusion of Patrick Brough in the starting line-up, he said: “Patrick is a young player who has come through the youth ranks and we know what he’s about. Macaulay Gillesphey picked up a dead leg in training yesterday but I thought he was going to be fine. I got a text at 9.30am this morning from Dolly to tell me that he’d woken up feeling he wasn’t going to be able to perform to the level required. He’s Newcastle’s player as well so we have to look after him.
“I had no hesitation at all in bringing Patrick in to the fold. The length of contract he signed was given so that he had time to develop as a young player. He’s growing and maturing physically and mentally and there are other aspects of his game we now need to work on. We want to see him come back after the summer flying, as he was at the start of last season, so he can push on again.”
On the unrest heard on the terraces behind the dug-out, he said: “We need to make sure we don’t get away from what we’ve been doing, which is to try to get us all facing in the right direction. It does help when there’s a united front where we are all looking to improve year in and year out. The players I am trying to bring into this club will be with a view to helping us to improve.
“My relationship with John Nixon hasn’t changed because he is striving to do everything he can to make it easier for me to do my job. I am here to entertain the supporters and get this club to where I think it can go. I will do that as professionally as possible and with a focus on bringing success to the club.
“To hear those chants aimed at the director’s box isn't nice. It does affect you, but part and parcel of my job is making sure the focus is on the football pitch. To do that I need to bring in better quality which will get us better results.
“I'm here to talk about football and the disappointing thing from my view is that we've had a very competitive game against a top of the table side but it’s the comments from the crowd which will probably make the headlines.”
“Looking to next week, we will approach this week and the Notts County game professionally,” he commented. “We're in on Monday and we'll be working and preparing properly because it's an opportunity for the players to put in a performance they're proud of.
“A lot of people will be off, because it’s a bank holiday, but we will be in. You need to make sacrifices in this job sometimes and you need to show a level of commitment. You can say that Saturday is a nothing game but that doesn’t wash with me. We are very much still in work mode.”
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