Keith Curle on strong relationships and building a playing philosophyUnited head into the Christmas period in second place in the League Two table, having lost just once in their 21 outings so far, and with Brunton Park becoming a bit of a fortress manager Keith Curle admitted this week that the strengthening bond with the fans is something he had targeted from the first day he walked into the club.
“Every manager wants their supporters to go away happy,” he said. “We’ve said a number of times that negativity courts company and it’s fantastic to see how much the fans have put that behind them to really get behind their team.
“They’re sticking with us and cheering us on even when things aren’t quite going our way. I can’t stress how important that is. That sense of unity is growing and there’s always more chance of success when everyone is pulling together and heading in the same direction.”
On the gradual increase in numbers through the turnstiles, he said: “Ideally I’d like to play in front of the 18,000 we had here when we played Everton at the start of the year.
“I know we didn’t get the performance or result the atmosphere merited. but what an occasion it was. The football club was alive and it had a heartbeat. The fans are that heartbeat, but I do understand the politics that have surrounded this club.
“I’ve said from day one I don’t want to be involved in that and all I can do is urge the supporters to get behind their football team. This is their club and we’re trying very hard to push it on.
“I have to say, the backing I’ve been given from the board has been excellent because I know I can be quite tiresome when I keep asking them for more and more. I won’t apologise for that because to keep the level of improvement I want to see I have got to keep asking questions.
“When I came to the club I said to Andrew [Jenkins] and John [Nixon] that all I wanted was an opportunity to be successful. I told them that if I was going to bring success to this club they had to back me, and I’ve got to say they’ve done that every time they’ve been able to.”
Part of that backing has been to support the manager as he opens early talks about new deals with a quintet of players who go out of contract at the end of the current campaign – Mark Gillespie, Danny Grainger, Luke Joyce, Jason Kennedy and Michael Raynes.
“We’re trying to build a philosophy here and we know which players we feel can play a part in that,” he said. “That’s why we will continue to work with what is a fantastic group to get the best out of them.
“It’s also why we will appeal decisions we feel are wrong, as we did with Michael Raynes. That rightly got overturned and he came in and gave us a full-blooded performance on Saturday.
“That’s the character of the man that is Michael Raynes. That’s why I get annoyed and slightly defensive when I hear somebody calling him a coward, because that’s wrong. Those comments were proved wrong by the FA because what he was accused of doing simply didn’t happen.
“It’s also a complete misunderstanding of what Michael Raynes is about. He’s very competitive but he’s also very honest. He’s a footballer who is developing, improving and wanting to listen and learn. I also like his character because he won’t give less than everything he’s got. He’s something this club can build on.”