Keith Curle on a switch in emphasis and Alexander McQueen
United manager Keith Curle spoke to us about the benefits of the four day mini-break as he got his players back together on Tuesday morning for the second phase of their pre-season package.
“The weather was fantastic on Tuesday,” he said. “The players came in and you could tell they’d had four or five days off. It was a good place to be with the levels of energy and enthusiasm.
“Compare that weather to what we have today [Wednesday] where I was woken up at about 5am with the rain hammering down. It didn’t stop all morning, along with thunder and lightning, but it was typical of the group that it didn’t matter to them.
“Their approach is that they’re out there and there’s work to do, so let’s get on with it. That’s very pleasing. I think that was helped by the fact the players do have their break. We make sure we get the amount of work days we need out of them, because we do come back a little bit earlier than the other clubs, and they know those first few weeks are going to be full on.”
Speaking about the way the overall training package is structured, he said: “The idea is to get them in shape and to a standard where they can withstand the sessions we want to put on for them.
“Alongside the work they do in the first part of pre-season are a series of friendly games to get them time on the pitch. The way we build things up is to make sure they’re at a good point and then we shut them down mentally and physically for that four day period.
“Once the batteries are recharged they come back to us knowing that the next stage is technical and tactical work on the training pitch as we start to look towards the first game of the season. Everything we do from here will be game related with that in mind.”
And with the squad almost where he wants it to be fitness wise, he admitted that he was still looking to add more new faces to the mix.
“We’ve identified a number of players we think will help to improve us but the finances have to be right and in place for me to want to take it further,” he said. “Sometimes you have to be slightly creative once you start to talk to players and their representatives, but I’m willing to do that.
“We’re open to new players in all areas of the pitch because the aim is to improve, add competition and bring real hunger to the group. If we can get good characters into the building it will help us all.”
“The goalkeeper position is obviously an important one and that is completely and utterly down to Simon [Tracey],” he added. “He’s very happy with Mark Gillespie and we’re looking for competition for him with somebody who is going to add their own character and ability to that position.
“We don’t want someone who will happily sit on the bench as a number two. We want a keeper who is here to challenge for the right to earn his place.”
And on the situation with the contract offer made to defender Alexander McQueen at the end of last season, he said: “The situation with him is a simple one. We made him an offer of a contract and, as is his right, he turned it down.
“We’ve since had contact from his representatives to ask if we were prepared to up our offer. Personally, and I won’t change on this, I think negotiations need to be done face to face with Alex, his parents and his representatives. I don’t think things like this can be done by text, over WhatsApp, or by email.
“Every young player has the right to earn the best contract they can get and within that sometimes they dig their heels into the ground and tell you what they want. That’s fine, and all part of making sure things are right for all parties, and obviously we have the right to say where we stand as well.”
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