Keith Curle ahead of the visit of Hartlepool United on SaturdayManager Keith Curle spoke to us about this weekend’s local derby against Hartlepool United as his squad looks to continue its unbeaten start to the season.
“It’s a home fixture which comes off the back of a fantastic away result, where we had fantastic support, and it’s chance to entertain our home crowd,” he said. “Hartlepool are our near neighbours who have a very good record away from home at the moment. They’re above us in the table for points gained away from home and we’re very mindful of that.
“Hartlepool have progressed under Craig Hignett and I saw a massive change in the way they do things. The level of improvement was there within their squad last season, even though we beat them 1-0, and they are now a team which is comfortable with the way they approach the game, particularly away from home.”
“I think it’ll be a typical derby game,” he continued. “We obviously want to play entertaining and attacking football but we’re more likely to see a typical cut and thrust derby game. It could be scrappy as both sides try to dominate, and there’ll be a lot of confidence in both camps because of the respective runs the teams are on. There are a lot of different aspects in the mix which should make for a very good afternoon’s viewing.
“We do have momentum and that’s because we’ve created an environment where players know they can go out and express themselves. We think we’ve got enough in that dressing room to cause Hartlepool problems.
“I think they’ll play 4-3-3 in possession and 4-5-1 when they don’t have the ball. Their strength is to get it wide and provide good ammunition. They’ll look to sit back and compete and then hit us on the counter when they can. They have a decent sized squad, so they can mix it up, but we’re able to adapt as well.”
“We’re playing some good football so we are feeling confident,” he told us. “We’ve had a settled number of players who have played in every game, and that helps.
Speaking again about the crowd, he said: “As we said earlier this week, it is two sets of fans who are passionate about their teams. They came in numbers when they had just fought off relegation and that was a fantastic event for everybody.
“We also had it for the Everton game when we hosted a Premier League team in a proper cup tie atmosphere. Can we reproduce that? Saturday is a good opportunity for us to take another step toward it because we know the support is out there.”