Keith Curle with reaction to the Notts County gameManager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Notts County home game shortly after full time on Saturday afternoon.
“I had it in my head that I wanted to start the game with five in midfield to help to stop their supply of balls into the box,” he said. “As and when the time was right we would go to two up top and that worked for us. We made the changes early in the second half, we got the goal, and I then made the decision to condense the space in midfield.
“I knew that would give them more opportunities to get balls into dangerous areas again but it was a calculated risk. I take full responsibility for that, but we also have to say that some poor decision making on the field cost us.
“We set up to see the game out but we didn’t deal with the danger when it came for the equaliser. The ball was bobbling around and then it ended up in the back of our net. It’s something which has happened a few too many times and it’s cost us on too many occasions as well.”
Speaking more about the early second half changes, and the grumbles from the crowd which saw a healthy exchange of views just after the first goal of the game as scored, he said: “Some of the fans were frustrated when they saw me take Jamie Devitt off. I fully understand that because Jamie is a very good player. I felt that as the game was panning out we weren’t able to get the ball to him enough to utilise the skill sets he has.
“I decided to change it round and get two up top to try to put pressure on them that way. Jabo [Ibehre] got on, scored his goal and that justified the substitution I’d made and showed the reasoning and rationale behind it.
“There was an exchange of opinions and one of the lads from the Paddock came down to the end of the tunnel to tell me why he felt Jamie should be on the pitch. I was able to tell him why I wanted Jabo out there. I’ll take that any day of the week because I know our fans want the club to be as successful as I do.”
Another slight change from the norm during the first half came when the manager left his customary place in the technical to take a seat in the dug out.
“That was to allow Simon [Tracey] and Lee [Dykes] to have their interaction with the players,” he explained. “Sometimes when you take yourself out of the firing line you get a different perspective, and that was when I came to the decision that we would be going with two up top.
“I know once we’d made that change in the second half that I should have stayed with it. Today I got it wrong and I take full responsibility for that. I should have stuck with it. By choosing to pack the midfield we gave Notts County the freedom to put balls into the box again and I accept that was down to me.
“As I say, the players have some responsibility to take as well. The goals we conceded were poor. We gave them away too cheaply and that’s happened too many times. We can’t allow ourselves to be happy with that. We conceded goals through poor decision making, indecision at the wrong times and poor communication.”
“There are a lot of people in the dressing room holding their hands up and saying sorry,” he added. “I don’t want to hear it at the moment, to be perfectly honest. That's why I kept the team talk after the game relatively short. We need to be better and we need to be doing our jobs to get the points we’ve worked for. I thought there was a nervy edge about us and that’s why we started with the extra man in midfield.
“We got to half time with the clean sheet and we were confident we had the people on the bench to change things once we got into the second half. Jabo [Ibehre] got his goal straight away and then we just needed to see it out. We’ve got players here who technically and tactically could hold their own in the division above but their decision making has got to be improved.
“What we do now is regroup, analyse the game and move forward. We need unity at this stage of the season. Everyone has to put their hat in the ring and make sure we’re pushing on together. If we do that I have no doubt we'll finish the season on a high, which is what we all want.”