Manager Keith Curle on cup runs and consistencyManager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the 4-2 Checkatrade Trophy victory over Fleetwood Town on Wednesday evening.
“We’re pleased that we’ve topped the group,” he said. “It’s a competition that’s been taking a little bit of criticism from different factions but, and as professionals, it’s an opportunity for us to represent the football club in the correct manner.
“It’s pleasing to come through the three tough group games unbeaten and that tells us a lot about the players we have. They want to do well and they want to improve as much as they can.”
“Whatever the discussions around it, we owe it to everyone to go out and give a professional performance,” he commented. “I expect that at every level from my players, from bounce games to league games.
“We all want to win every time we play and I think that mentality is developing. If you want it to become second nature you can’t just pick the games you’re going to win. You have to perform to your best levels consistently.
“I think the format changed because as a country we struggle to play competition football. This is an opportunity for young players to get that experience within a structured format. I think the interest will start to grow as the competition moves on but we are very aware that this football club in particular has got a lot of history linked to it. However, it has moved on and we need to embrace it.
“As with every competition we enter, we want to go as far as we can. Financially we budgeted at the beginning of the season that we would get nil returns from cup competitions. That means that every time we progress it brings extra revenue in. Hopefully that gets added to the pot for when we go shopping in January.”
Last night’s victory brought with it a new club record as the winning run stretched to a never before achieved eighth consecutive game.
When quizzed about it, the manager said: “It’s phenomenal. I’ve said it before but we have a lot of people here who deserve credit for helping us to do these things.
“I have to say that my immediate staff deserves a massive thank you. As a club we’ve employed people who have professional standards and it’s working for us. As an example, on Tuesday we had Colin West at Derby, Simon Tracey was at Blackburn and Lee Dykes was out watching players for us. That’s because we all want to work to improve ourselves and the team.
“There’s a work ethic building at the club and it seems to be that different people are getting the spotlight each week. We’re not a one man team and it’s not all about individuals. We’re a football club in every way and that includes the admin staff. We all want success and that’s a great way for us to be.
“We’ve got ourselves a positive environment and that’s massively important to what we want to do. It wasn’t there when I first walked in, but it’s growing and we’re getting good things because of it.
“When it comes down to it, records are there to be broken. The reason we’re doing it is that the focus is always on the next game. The players enjoy their wins on the day but as soon as they’re back in work it’s a case of looking at our next opposition.
“We take a lot of pride in what we do and we’re helped every step of the way in everything we do. People can ask if you can enjoy working hard – let me tell you these players really do.”
On the game itself, he said: “The first half showed the message we’re trying to send out is being taken on board right through the squad. Some players who haven’t been getting game time came in and gave a very good account of themselves.
“The first goal came from some great football and Joe [McKee] has been desperate to be involved. He fully understands we have a team which is on a good run at the moment and that he’ll have to be patient.
“We wanted to see him in an advanced role and within the game he also ended up being the sitting midfield player as well. He’s reminded us that we have strength in depth.
“Some of the passages of play from us were very good. There are things in every game we’ll see that we will feel we can still work on but the important thing is that we’re making ourselves very hard to beat.”
Speaking about the strength of character on show in the second half, he told us: “I’ve just said to the players that being three up at home at half time can be a very difficult lead. You know they’ll have had a rocket up the backside and that they’ll be out to prove a point.
“Good players create an environment where their standards are maintained, whatever the score, and we have to be honest and say that we came off it a bit. The pleasing thing is we showed good character to get back on it as well.
“As we said earlier, the end result is that the players got another record and it is a very pleasing achievement. Things have been turned round at this club and it’s taken a massive effort. So many people have helped us to steady the ship and I can feel the unity growing on a daily basis.