Keith Curle with his reaction to the Oldham game
Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the thrilling 5-4 victory over Oldham Athletic on Tuesday night.
“I think we're learning a lot about ourselves,” he said. “The way we played football in the first half was very good and it shows we're definitely going in the right direction.
“It was disappointing to go a goal behind but the pleasing thing was the reaction. We didn't change the way we wanted to play and we justifiably got the rewards. We will never be happy to concede goals but my defenders were trying to have that little bit of arrogance and show they were unruffled, but you've got to win first contact.
“You've got to be in the right position and you've got to be in contention to win the ball. I thought we started the game half a yard off and it shows that against a good, mobile team it will cause you problems if you don't win that first contact.”
“The first half ticked a lot of boxes,” he continued. “The second half showed the learning curve we're on. If you give a team a footballing lesson in the first half they're going to come at you in the second. That's when you need to be mentally and physically focussed.
“I'm enjoying working with this group of players. We've created a professional environment and sometimes people can take that word too easily. It might not be the fun factory that a lot of people have been used to, or want it to be, but we're very professional in everything we do.
“We try to give ourselves the best opportunity to put in performances like we did in the first half and ultimately to grind out results. That resilience and test of character shows the mental strength which is needed to win a game of football.
“There are lots and lots of positives to come out of this game. That isn’t just for us, but for Oldham, because it was a test of character for them as well. They were 3-1 down against a team in a lower division and they were out-footballed in the first half.”
On the controversy surrounding the revamped competition format, he said: “I think tonight showed the importance the footballing departments of football clubs put on this competition.
“It gave us an opportunity very early on in the season to maintain our progression. I told the players that when they put on a Carlisle United shirt there are expectations, not only from the supporters and the football club, but from me.
“I have expectations and demands that are required when you play for me and for this football club. The fans tonight will have seen two teams going about their job very professionally. I don't give shirts away easily. The players who are in the team don't want to give that shirt up and let somebody else come in. At the moment they're earning the right to maintain their shirts.”
“It was a good introduction for Max [Crocombe],” he commented. “I was pleased with his all round distribution and his presence in the goal. He'll be disappointed with two of the goals, but other things happened before them which we need to rectify.
“Shaun Brisley has made another step towards where we want him to be tonight. We've got real competition in that position with Mark Ellis on the bench. We're gaining a reputation now which means we're able to be slightly flexible in our team selection, but we're putting square pegs in square holes.
“Jason Kennedy is very close. He trained on Monday and he's also been training today [Tuesday]. My job is getting harder and harder, but that's the part of the job I really enjoy.”
“I think I'm right in saying we'll have a full squad to pick from on Saturday,” he said. “They're all fit and raring to go and they want to be a part of what's happening. I listen to the medical department and the strength and conditioning department, I listen to the experts, and sometimes the best form of preparation is rest.
“It's important that the players get the right rest and are educated in the right things to do. I'm proud of the work that both of those departments are doing and I'm proud of the relationship that we've built up within the football club. We're creating a little wave - who knows what that wave can turn into.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, he said: “We need 6,000 fans at Brunton Park on Saturday. This is the time for the local radio and paper to do their job and drum up business and make sure Brunton Park is rocking.
“We'll entertain them and we'll play football and show effort, commitment and desire. We'll try and play the game how I know the Carlisle fans want to see us play football.”
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