Keith Curle on the Leyton Orient gameUnited manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Orient game shortly after full time on Saturday.
“If we’d taken our chances in the first half it could have been a different game,” he said. “Giving a team a goal start and giving them something to defend creates more problems.
“I thought we created some good chances, we hit the post and had other opportunities, but some tentative finishing resulted in us not being able to make it an easier afternoon. The pleasing thing from my point of view is we went into the game with a Plan A, knowing that we had a Plan B if we needed it.
“We were up against a strong, physical team and they were prepared to bring the game to us. I thought we were the team on top when we went to our second plan in the second half and, if we’d got the final touch we needed after our equaliser, I think we’d have seen a very different outcome.”
“You have to say that Orient stuck to their job very well and that meant we had to change our approach,” he continued. “That can happen to the best clubs in the country and what you have to show, as we did, is that you can deal with it and overcome it. The fact we did that shows we have flexibility within the small squad we have.
“I felt we set off at the right tempo but goals do change games. At times we were too slow with our play at the back and that meant we didn’t dismantle them when we had the ball in our own defensive area.
“We took the easy option too many times of passing it back, so we have plenty to work on and plenty of food for thought. I’ve said this before, but we will turn teams over. We’re scoring goals and creating chances and we have a number of forward thinking players who will get us goals. Things will change in that regard because we’ll make it change by working hard.
“Orient are a difficult team to play against because they’re compact and they have experience. Their advanced players allow them to go four against four when they have the ball and you have to deal with that. They get some credit for good blocks and bravery, but our finishing is something for us to keep working on.”
On the goals conceded, he said: “We were disappointed with both goals because they did seem easy goals to concede. That’s why the players were falling out with each other afterwards.
“We didn’t do enough to stop crosses or shots at key times, but we’re getting closer to gaining really positive results and we’re scoring goals. We’re a small group so we will use different combinations in different areas across the season.
“We’ll have strikers playing together, on their own, or as different pairings. Ideally I’m still looking to bring in another centre forward to give us other options as well. I’m here to make decisions and we thought, with how we’d seen Orient play, we’d find areas to exploit. It didn’t work for us so we changed it. We got the reward straight away, but the disappointing thing was they had one chance in the second half and they scored from it.
“I thought our early second half goal would give us impetus and there were a couple of penalty appeals where you think they should have been given. Charlie [Wyke] got a nudge in the back which was ignored, but you have to take that.
“Today is another example of how we stuck to the task and we didn’t let heads drop. We knew there was a result in there for us and I walked into the changing room afterwards to hear the players ripping lumps out of each other. They were having a right go. I encourage that because I want to hear what they’ve all got to say.
“The lads are unhappy they didn’t win and I don’t mind that. It’s good to see they’re prepared to tell each other what they’re unhappy about. It can seem quite aggressive but that’s how it has to be, because results do matter. I won’t tell anyone to shut up and sit down because they have to be able to have their say, as long as they then move on. When that’s happening it’s the sign of a good team.”
Speaking about the fantastic support from the stands and terraces, he said: “There’s frustration from the fans because we’re not going out and winning by two, three or four goals. We had six or seven good half chances in the first half without really testing the keeper.
“The crowd are staying with us because they know there’s resilience in this group. They’re giving the fans everything and that will always be appreciated. Scoring that first goal will come. Things aren’t quite going our way at the moment, so we aren’t romping away into the lead. If we keep putting teams on the back foot that will come.
“The fans are seeing the hard work that’s being done. I had a chat with the Paddock after Charlie scored because I need them behind me. They’re vocal and they make a lot of sense.
“We need to be more ruthless in front of goal because we know our strikers all have goals in them. There’s a desire in that changing room to be successful because they will not allow themselves to be rolled over on a consistent basis. We still need more but the unbeaten run continues.”
And on the penalty which earned the point, he told us: “If you get a penalty in the last few minutes of the game there’s nothing better than seeing Danny Grainger step up.
“The confidence is there that he’s going to put the ball in the right area. He takes them the way I like them – with belief that he will score.”
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