Keith Curle with reaction to the Rochdale FA Cup gameManager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Rochdale FA Cup game shortly after full time on Saturday evening.
“As soon as we went into the changing room after the game the players knew they were going to get the usual element of honesty from me,” he said. “I told them I thought Rochdale were better than us over the 90 minutes in every single department.
“That is a criticism, and the players have got to take that on board. To be fair, I didn’t think there was anything in the game in the first half. It was two very competitive teams trying to get the ball down so they could play football.
“As the game wore on you would probably say their goal had a massive part to play in how it went. It gave them the extra confidence they needed to go on and express themselves. Before that I thought we’d nullified them and we were causing problems, without having a real threat in the final third.
“That isn’t like us but we were playing against a very good team who are flying high and who have some very good players. The difference in the end is that it needed to be us who got the first goal. I think that would have set their alarm bells ringing and caused them a few jitters. It’s all fine margins in this game and, yes, they were better than us – but not by a lot.”
“The beauty of the FA Cup is that goals do change games,” he commented. “It changes the mentality of the players and the fans. We needed it to go our way because they are a very good team.
“Our set pieces did cause them problems and there were some situations where we felt they would have gone our way on another day. We take our medicine and we use this is another learning tool.”
“One other thing I’ve made sure has been made clear is that we don’t start to use the excuse that we can now concentrate on the league just because we’re out of the cup,” he added. “On Monday morning we can start to talk about that, but straight after the final whistle the players have got to realise there was a game they could have won. We didn’t do that because Rochdale were slightly better than us in all departments.
“It’s shown us again that there is still room for improvement. The first goal they scored was a real disappointment because we could have cleared it before he had his shot. We didn’t and we then allowed somebody to turn and get the shot off. That’s inviting danger and the higher you go the more you get punished for letting things like that happen.
“We haven’t had a slap in the face today because we haven’t been embarrassed or rolled over. We were very competitive but we just needed a little bit more. There’s still more to come from the players we have here and we’ll be working hard to get it out of them. The door hasn’t been closed on those lads who haven’t been getting game time and there will be opportunities for everybody to show us what they can do.”
“I have to say thank you to the fans again today because they really tried to get us going in the second half,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of home games but they still turned out in numbers. It’s a time of year when finances are tight for everybody but they’ve come and seen the levels needed if we want to go up into League One.
“They’ve seen us play well and get into good positions without quite making the right decisions. They know they’ve got a team they can support.
“We’re a coaching staff which uses every game, win or lose, as a learning tool. Rochdale have shown how it can look if you stay calm and you don’t become flustered in your approach to defence and attack. Once we’re able to do that on a consistent basis we’ll know we’re ready to take that next step up.”
On what he expects to see now, he said: “We asked for a reaction after the Newport defeat and we want the same now. We haven’t been outclassed and we want to see the same levels of application for every game going forward.”
Speaking about the injury situation with Jabo Ibehre, he told us: “He’s going to be reassessed and we’ll find out where he is. I know he’s in good hands and he’ll be back with us as soon as he’s ready.
“We’ll be looking at Patrick Brough’s loan situation because that’s up after this weekend. Salford have been in touch to say they want him for the full 93 days because he’s done well. He has a zest about him that you want to see in a young man because he’s getting game time.
“Part of his development has been to go out and play as much as possible because it’s vitally important. That’s the same with David Atkinson. He had his injury earlier in the season and now he needs to show he’s capable of playing full games and coming through them ready to go again.”