Keith Curle with reaction to the Derby EFL Cup game
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the amazing Tuesday night game following his side’s excellent performance against Derby County.
“The lads took information on board and they maximised their performance levels, and that leaves us feeling really pleased,” he said. “I thought the players were completely there technically, tactically and physically. They gave us a very creditable effort and to take a fantastic team like Derby to penalties is a good sign going forward.
“I thought we caused them some big problems in the first half, but they showed us a little bit of their class after the break. We stood strong and I thought we were very much equipped for what they threw at us.”
“I like getting the best out of my players and I wanted to go through,” he continued. “There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that every single player has given their all. They had to listen to and implement a completely new set of instructions and a new formation, because this was one we hadn’t used with this group.
“We only had one day of training on it, and the session was a little bit mundane on Monday because we had to walk and talk through different scenarios and different areas where we felt we could cause them problems.
“The players concentrated and we even had to go back to the classroom today [Tuesday] because we did have a very limited time to prepare out on the training ground. We had longer sessions than you would normally like to do and we illustrated on whiteboards and on videos which movement patterns we wanted to use.
“I think it’s now evident that we have very bright and intelligent players who have an ability to work very hard. Teams like this have good players and we knew there had to be times when we would need to take the game to them. The fact is, if you have the ball it means the opposition can’t score. You have to be brave and believe in what you can do, and I thought the players did that.
“The amount of work Tom Miller and Danny Grainger had to do within that was phenomenal. Their job was to keep their midfield players occupied and they did it really well for us. That in itself gave us a springboard to work from.”
“We played Championship football tonight,” he commented. “The message to the lads ahead of kick off was that we had to up our game. That needs a level of confidence and arrogance in your play, and to turn that round in just 24 hours is excellent. They’ve shown us they can adapt and up their levels.
“The changes we made to the starting line up and with the subs were all tactical. Nicky [Adams] came off because he got a little bit lost within the shape after the break. It isn’t a natural position for him but I thought he was excellent. All we did was look at it and make the decision that we needed to try to change our angles of approach.”
On the penalty shoot-out confusion which preceded an important Michael Raynes spot kick, he said: “I was slightly disappointed with that situation. I’ve only been in the game 30-odd years as a player, coach and manager, but I don’t think you can get to the eleventh man to then be told he’s not taking it.
“I would have thought you’d go through the extra time and then nominate your takers. You would then also nominate somebody who won’t take the penalty further down the line, if that’s what the situation dictates. If the ending of the competition is by penalties then surely we have to know before they start that one of the opposition won’t be taking part.
“If you can change it because players are injured you would just keep your best five penalty takers and have them going on a rotation. I think there should be clarity on that, and that isn’t us complaining in any way, shape or form.
“Bradley Johnson went up the tunnel for treatment but, as far as I’m concerned, he finished the game. If the reason he didn’t take it is because he had cramp – well, some of our players had cramp as well. It’s not something I want to go on and on about, but clarity from the officials would have helped.”
“As I say, that’s been and gone and what we will concentrate on now is that we are very proud of what we did as a football club in this game,” he concluded. “We earned the right to take this game to penalties and the air of disappointment comes from being someone who has a group of players who like to win.
“However, we deal with disappointment by making sure we are ready to go again as soon as we get back to work. That is how it will be.”
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