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MANAGER: Like a bear with a sore head when things aren't right

20 February 2016

Keith Curle with reaction to the Stevenage victory

Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the hard-earned home win against Stevenage at his post-match press conference.

“I think Stevenage will upset a few teams playing like that,” he commented. “They have good energy and a good physical presence, and they have some clever players. They’re very competitive and that’s why it makes the three points we take away seem better. They played well without carving us open and it was down to poor decision making and errors from us that they caused us a few problems.

“We’re mindful of the fact we didn’t play well but we’ve done what we had to do, against a well-drilled side, to get what was needed. I suppose it’s easy to ask what affect Tuesday night’s game had on the players, with them going down to ten men, but let me tell you they emptied the tank at Accrington.

“They were down to their reserve levels and we then had to ask them to pick that back up to face a vibrant team who are playing well for their new manager. We also still had the hangover of the virus to contend with and we went into the game thinking, is it going to be there for us again?” 

“We knew we had to grind out a result in what were difficult conditions,” he said. “We weren’t really able to get into a rhythm of any note and a little bit of edginess crept in. The pleasing thing is that we got the result we needed out of all that.

“My job was important at half time. The performance hadn’t been good enough and some of the elements of being able to stop the opposition from playing weren’t happening. The cutting edge was lacking and I earned my money by making some brave decisions.

“Some criticism was needed at that point, but I always deliver that with a level of honesty. As we’ve seen before, I will change things if they aren’t right. The majority of what was going wrong was down to fatigue, so we had to deal with that, and one of the substitutions was because there was a risk of injury, which was flagged up in the dressing room. 

“We didn’t want to make that any worse because we know we have a run of games coming up. I’d rather make a change than condemn a player to injury and end up missing him for a prolonged period of time.”

“As I say, it was an important team talk,” he told us. “Some players needed to be told they weren’t performing and they were left with no confusion about what I needed from them in the second half. We looked a completely different outfit after the break even though we didn’t get everything going our way.

“You have to give Stevenage credit for that because they worked hard for each other. In the end we kept a clean sheet and we ground out a result, and I’ll take that every day of the week. To be honest, I’d take seventeen 1-0 wins between now and the end of the season.”

On the improvement seen after the break, he said: “I told a few of our players that there was more to come and the belief in the group was justified when we got that goal. We looked a different team in the second half and I thought we had the better of the encounter, even though they had some good chances from crosses. 

“We have to be honest and say the first half belonged to them and I was more than happy that we got into the break at nil-nil. As I say, all you can be in a team talk after a half like that is honest. If someone isn’t doing the job I need them to do, I tell them. 

“Sometimes I do that nicely and other times I make sure they know they need to ramp it up. I’m like a bear with a sore head when things aren’t right because I like people to do their job. That’s not just on the pitch, that’s everywhere. I think the players proved to themselves today that they can empty the tank again. When they were asked, they delivered ... and they also delivered a clean sheet. That will always give you a chance.”

“The manner of the win wasn’t the prettiest but the result was important,” he said. “I like winning games. Every manager would like to see their players enjoy themselves with a three or four goal haul. 

“Sometimes you get that and on other occasions it comes like we got it today. Deep down I know we didn’t perform but we got a clean sheet and three points. I’ve seen games where we’ve played exceptionally well and had nothing to show for it at the end. 

“There was resilience about us that I enjoyed and back-to-back home wins at this stage of the season is important. We’re looking to go on a run now. Make no mistake, through the last seven or eight minutes we had over 4,000 people helping us to keep that ball out of the net. The supporters wouldn’t let the players ease off and that was fantastic to see. It’s a sign of unity and that type of thing grows and makes things better for all of us.”

Speaking about the match winning goal, he said: “I don’t think many other people would have been able to generate the power on the ball Jabo [Ibehre] did, and also get the accuracy. You could see with his celebration that it meant a lot to him to get back on the goal sheet. 

“At the start of the season everything he hit went in. We now need to get him in the box more and he will get the rewards. It was one of those days where you could tell he was going to score. 

“He needed that goal for himself as much as anything. The team look to Jabo as a focal point and they value his opinion and his voice. Ultimately he’s in the team to score goals and the hard work Charlie Wyke did ultimately ended with a reward for his strike partner. That’s what partnerships are all about.

“Jabo has always got a smile on his face and he’s a leader of men in a slightly different way to what you would expect. He’s methodical and precise and he enjoys playing football. I think we all needed Jabo to come good and he certainly did. As I say, I don’t think many other people would have scored that type of goal.”

And he concluded with an explanation on why midfielder Antony Sweeney had missed out on being part of the match day squad.

“Antony pulled up in training on Friday so he will go for a scan to help us to get to the bottom of that,” he explained. “Hopefully it will be nothing too sinister but we will just have to wait and see.”

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