Keith Curle with reaction to his manager of the month awardManager Keith Curle was confirmed as the Sky Bet League Two October Manager of the Month this morning having led his team through an unbeaten start to the season and six victories from six games for the month.
We spoke to him about it when he received his award on Wednesday morning.
“It’s recognition for the whole team,” he said. “And when we say team, we mean all staff at the football club, from the media department to the ground staff, the laundry department and everybody who helps us do our job. They can all take a lot of pride in the awards that have come our way this month.
“The club has come a long way in a short space of time since we came in two years ago. When you walk into an environment as an outsider, as I did when I came in, there wasn’t a winning mentality or a work ethic and there wasn’t pride in the football club. Lots of people have taken on board a lot of change, which is pleasing.”
“I know that with that change unfortunately I’ve upset a few people, and a few departments within the football club, but I can honestly say it’s been done for the right reasons,” he added. “It’s been done with honesty and integrity, and also with respect. Everything is done to try and improve the output, which is the football team.
“Everybody has a working environment but ultimately it’s about what we produce on a Saturday. I’ve got to say a massive thank you to the people who are helping us improve and produce the type of football the supporters want to watch. Fans want to come and see us and ultimately that means they are buying in to their football club.”
When asked if there was a feeling of pride at having picked up the award, he said: “There’s massive pride to be in charge of a team like this. My immediate staff allow me to work as a manager, in the way I want to work, and that’s massive to myself.
“Lee Dykes, Colin West, Simon Tracey, Lee Fearn, Neil Dalton, Colin Nixon and the media department create and enhance the environment which makes my job so enjoyable. It means I can keep my focus on what I think I can do to the football club which is all in aid of the football club. We’re maximising every single department of the football club to make sure we’re successful.
“I’m lucky at the moment because we have a system of work which means I’m able to focus on the next game. The bigger picture is that we want to improve on our league position from last season. We want to finish above that and gravitate towards the play-offs. If we do that it can be seen as an achievement.”
On the response he’s had from the players over what has been two years of constant progression, he said: “The players have bought into the demanding, honest environment we’re trying to create whereby everything we do is done to give us the best opportunity to get points, to get higher up the table and to get success.
“At the start of the season I was confident not only with the ability we’d brought in but with the character of the players. The professional standards the players we recruited already had meant that them coming into the club was only ever going to improve us. They’ve helped us to increase the standards we’re striving for.
“The players who were here will have seen an upward continuation of improvement. Every year every club will want to improve and that means that sometimes you’ve got to upset people.
“Things have got to be done differently to get different results. If you keep doing the same thing year-in and year-out, the likelihood is that you’ll get the same sort of results. The club had been relegated and they were four points adrift, and we absolutely needed to change. There was some resistance to start with, and there still is, but we need to show that we will always be pushing for continued success.”
Speaking about the award of Player of the Month to the in-form midfielder Jason Kennedy, he said: “There are certain players within the group who have been challenged for their position within the team.
“I’d say Jason Kennedy and Luke Joyce are probably the two stand-out characters who have come under the most scrutiny with that in mind. They faced immediate challenges, stood up to it, and the level of their performances has been exceptional because of it.
“Let’s remember, Jason couldn’t make it into the starting eleven at the start of the season. He’s worked his socks off and he is now able to implement his natural ability and play the game how he wants to play it, but he still makes sure he’s working within the team structure and framework.
“Luke Joyce is very similar to that. He got criticism from the supporters, the coaching staff and myself, because we knew there was more to come. You’ve got to say that on a consistent performance level he’s been able to rise to the challenge. Their tasks now are to maintain that level because there are players in the squad who haven’t had the opportunity yet, but who are desperate for it.”
“It’s important that the stakeholders and the chairman at the football club take a lot of credit for this award,” he concluded. “It was a brave decision for them to employ me because I know I wouldn’t have been a lot of people’s first, second or even third choice.
“They’ve fully backed the team I’ve assembled not only on the pitch, but with my backroom staff. We’re very demanding as a group, because we’ve got very high standards, and hopefully everyone at the football club is feeling that they can get united behind us.”