Keith Curle on the work put in to get the best from set piecesUnited scored twice from set pieces in their 3-2 victory over Hartlepool on Saturday and manager Keith Curle confirmed that the goals were the end result of a lot of time and effort out on the training pitch – both from the players and from the coaching staff.
“It is a bug bear for most players that they have to go through set piece routines, but our players pay attention and that’s a credit to them,” he said. “Our coaching staff leave no stone unturned when it comes to preparing for them and they do that work every week.
“We look through videos, movement patterns and match reports and, I have to say, it’s starting to pay off for us. There’s an appreciation from the players that what we’re doing is for a reason, so they knuckle down and get on with it.”
In terms of responsibilities when it comes to preparing for the training sessions, he said: “Simon does the majority of the set pieces we take. After the game against Hartlepool, for example, his first thought when he got home will have been set pieces for Stevenage.
“He’ll work on that all week as he looks for ways he thinks we will be able to make them count. I think Michael Raynes appreciated the attention to detail and workload Simon puts into them because, when it came to Saturday, it got us and Michael a goal.”
“On the other side you have Colin West, who does the defensive aspect of things,” he continued. “He looks at how the opposition will move when they have a set piece and he works out how to get people in the right places to stop it.
“Away from the set pieces, Lee Dykes looks at the overall tempo and passages of play we can expect to see from the opposition.”
On the quality of the winning goal at the weekend, he said: “He’s been due a few top corners hasn’t he! He’s had a few which he’s missed and he’s had headers saved and which have hit the woodwork.
“With this goal you knew he was composed and ready for it as soon as he got up in the air. As I say, the celebration afterwards was with Simon Tracey because he does spend a lot of time on set pieces with the lads.
“It doesn’t just happen that the ball gets put into the box and Michael scores. A lot of work goes into that chain of events. Some football clubs don’t put the time into it that we do, so we’re lucky that we have members of staff who plan the execution of ours meticulously.
“In training sessions we do our jobs until we’re happy and, again, it comes down to the fact we know we’ll have to earn everything we get. A quote which has been used many times before is that the harder you work the luckier you are.
“The pleasing thing is that we work extremely hard. We used to hear the word ‘unlucky’ a lot around this club when I first got here. We don’t use it any more. If something isn’t good enough we tell people.”
When asked for the latest update on the Alexander McQueen situation, he said: “Alexander has different attributes to what we have here in terms of being an attack-minded full back. He has a change of pace, he’s dynamic, and he can handle a ball well. He can turn defence into attack quickly and that’s something we feel we can enhance.
“Ultimately it will come down to whether or not we think the move fits character wise. Will it work by bringing him in to the club and, again, will it work financially? We have to see if we can fit him into the group in terms of budget and skill-sets. I might have to try and reshuffle the pack to create an opening, so that’s something I’ll look at.
“We do have players here at the moment who aren’t playing and who need game time. Clubs locally will see that, as happened with Russ Penn. He wasn’t getting the game time he needed and I’ve yet to find out if that agreement is going to be extended.
“He’s played games and that’s what all players want. We aren’t a Premier League outfit with players on thousands and thousands a week whereby them not playing doesn’t matter to them. Our players came here knowing the rewards come from performing well and winning games. That’s why they all want to be involved.”