Keith Curle on preparation, research and being ready
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about the increased use of stats, facts and figures in the lead-up to games as part of the preparation process.
“Belief is growing out there and the players and the supporters are forging a relationship,” he said. “They want the best for us and we want the best for them. Ultimately we want the best for ourselves and that’s because we want to put in performances we’re proud of.
“We use systems and processes to help us achieve that. The players know they’re accountable to us and they all get sent their individual stats from the game so they can see how they performed.
“They are now setting standards for themselves and the stats are there which allows them to ask questions about themselves. If it shows up that they aren’t getting into the final third as much as they wanted to, they can ask why. If their delivery goes astray more often than not, it’s highlighted. If the pass percentage rate is lower than what it should be it gives them something to think about and work on. These stats are given to them to add accountability to the work they do.”
On his opinion on using this type of approach, he said: “Some people like stats and some people don’t. I used to enjoy it as a player because I always looked at the individual I was coming up against in the next game.
“I used to get engrossed in their strengths and weaknesses. I was focused on winning the individual battle and, once that was done, it was about helping the team to win the game.
“I played against some good players who had different needs and requirements. One day I’d be marking Eric Cantona and the next day it was Matt Le Tissier. Then it would be on to Ian Wright or Mark Hughes.
“There’s no way you could approach players like that in the same way every week. Sometimes you needed to be physical and on other occasions you needed a bit of intelligence and thought. With some players you knew you could keep chirping away in their ear and it would annoy them. I honestly believe that if you know who you’re up against as a character and as a player you give yourself a better chance of coming out on top.”
“I think we’ve seen that Michael Raynes has picked up on this very quickly,” he commented. “He was up against Tom Elliott at Wimbledon and there is no point in challenging for every header or high ball with someone as tall as that.
“You need to have a plan B when you get into that kind of situation. Tom is going to win a lot of the high stuff so you need to adapt your approach and put the odds in your favour. That means you can even drop off and let him win a few headers because it then comes down to how you deal with the second ball.
“As I say, a statistical approach isn’t for everyone, but I think you have to utilise every tool at your disposal. Winning games often comes down to the finest margins and any preparation you do will never go to waste.”
“Steven Rigg came back into it on Tuesday and, again, that shows how much our players need to be ready in every way,” he told us. “He showed good energy levels and a good understanding of different roles within the team.
“Sometimes he was up front with Jabo [Ibehre] and also filling in on the right hand side when we were out of possession. He was then playing on the right when we went 3-5-2, and as an out and out centre forward when we played 4-4-2.
“He showed a good work ethic and I think he'll be disappointed he didn't take the chance he had from Alex McQueen's cross. Riggy with a few games under his belt would have finished that in one touch. He looked dangerous and you're always thinking that something unpredictable might happen around him. His determination to get back in and around the squad after his injury has been exemplary.”