Keith Curle with Port Vale match reaction
United manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the EFL Cup first round victory over Port Vale shortly after the game on Tuesday night.
“There were a lot of positives to take out of the game,” he said. “That’s not just the score line, or the fact it was the first win of the season at home, but the way we approached the game as a whole.
“It’s the first time the players who made their debuts have been on the pitch here, because of the delays in getting it ready after the concert, so we haven’t even been able to get a training session on it.
“Overall it’s really pleasing that we got that level of performance and I think it was a good introduction for our supporters to what we’re trying to do. There’s an attacking threat and an impetus that we’re trying to create here, and there were plenty of glimpses of that.”
“I thought the mixture in our play was exactly what we're looking for,” he commented. “We earned the right to play and then we went out there and did it.
“There are times when you need to take risks, but by putting the balls into the right areas, and I thought we did that very well. I thought the front two, the midfield two and the centre backs were superb.”
The win came courtesy of goals from strike pairing Charlie Wyke and Shaun Miller, and the manager agreed that it will be just the boost they need at this early stage of the campaign.
“Strikers like to score goals and we’ve shown that we have an attacking threat,” he said. “The most pleasing thing for me was the work ethic from both of them.
“They’re our springboard because if they start us off properly you find the rest of the team will follow. Their willingness to compete gets the rest of the players on the front foot.
“The goals came from players backing each other up and that’s something we’ve worked on. It’s important to keep the ball alive in dangerous areas with good movement and by stretching play. If you can land on more second balls than you miss you’ll keep the pressure on, and that’s what we did.”
“Possibly the most pleasing thing for me was that we got the mental aspect of the game right,” he told us. “We played for an hour on Saturday with ten men, against a team which is arguably favourite to win the division, and we competed very well.
“I’m mentioning this again but one of the things the players learned at Cassius Camps was that if the body is tired, but you have the right mentality, you can still get your body to do what you need it to do.
“Players doing that for themselves and each other means that we’re able to build something. People ask if we get scared of the optimism we’re trying to create and the simple answer to that is no. I’m trying to improve this football club and we’ll do that by maintaining progression in all areas.
“We were conscious through the summer that we wanted to put a squad full of quality together. To achieve that it has meant we haven’t been able to have the size of squad to give us the depth we need, but I know we have real quality to call on.
“When it’s like this every player knows he needs to be at it from the moment he gets into training. If there’s any suggestion that anyone isn’t up for it then it makes my selection problems much easier.
“Likewise if we’re in a game situation and I think we need to do something differently I’m brave enough to make a decision. Last night it was to put David Atkinson on for Tom Miller, because they have different attributes. I won’t back away from making decisions I feel need to be made at all.
“The players have set the bar and it’s my job to make sure those levels are maintained. I manage with honesty and if I have something to say to a player it’s always on a professional basis. We’re about winning football matches at this club and I will always put out the best team I think will win us games.”
On absentees Shaun Brisley and Jabo Ibehre, he said: “They are both very, very close. They will add more options and competition when they come back but we will make sure they are completely right before we bring them back into the fold. What we want is to know that when they’re back with us, they’re back with us for good.”
And on his latest communication with Alexander McQueen, he said: “I’ve organised a meeting with him on Friday. It’s been another slight case of miscommunication in that Alex and his representatives wanted to meet me in Manchester.
“The thing is that I work for Carlisle United and if I’m meeting a player who wants to sign for this club it has to be here in Carlisle.”
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