Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the disappointing Lincoln away day shortly after full time on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m disappointed because I expected my players to be able to deal with the threats they faced, and they didn’t,” he said. “We also didn’t earn the right to play our football and we weren’t brave enough to get on the ball and play the way we know we can.
“When we did that, in glimpses and patches, we caused them problems, but we didn’t learn from it and we didn’t develop it. We’ve got to get back to the understanding that every game is an opportunity to represent your football club and yourself.
“We needed a performance level today, but we didn’t get it. A lot of players wanted it, but that doesn’t get you very far. If you want something and it doesn’t happen it doesn’t really affect you.
“If you need something and it doesn’t happen it hurts a heck of a lot. Not enough of our players looked like they needed it to happen for them today. As a professional there’s a massive difference between wanting a performance and needing one.”
On the goals conceded, he said: “I’m very disappointed with them because they were uncharacteristic of the way we’ve started the season. We’ve shipped four poor goals and the end result is that we’ve been well and truly spanked, so it isn’t a nice feeling.
“You have to take your chances and you have to defend and we didn’t that in this game. It’s difficult to defend a score line like that because it hurts to be on the end of it. We created very good opportunities to score goals at influential times but we didn’t make them count.
“We had one just before half time and one just after that and, if we’d put them away, it could have given us a springboard. If you don’t take them you have to make sure you deal with the threat from the opposition. The players were given good information but ultimately it was poor decision making which led to us conceding on the day.
“Poor decision making also got us a man sent off. We were then going to be vulnerable to a late goal because we wanted to keep going forward to try to get something from the game. It’s a simple fact of the game that if you get opportunities you’ve got to take them.
It was a day when we didn’t have enough people earning the right to play their game ...
“On top of that we need to defend better and we need to be much stronger than we were. It was a day when we didn’t have enough people earning the right to play their game.”
Speaking about his team selection, he commented: “It was virtually the same personnel for the good result we got against Fleetwood. There are 90 minutes to win a game and we knew how they would want to start. The first 35 minutes or so went exactly as planned and we had a good foothold.
“It wasn’t going to be a game for getting it down and having good ball retention and we knew we were going to need to be narrow. The plan was to nullify their threats and then the game would be open for the likes of Nicky Adams and Shaun Miller to come on and do their thing.
“The performance at Fleetwood – another game that was away from home – showed us that we can be very compact and we felt that was what we needed against Lincoln. There will be criticisms about team selection when you lose a game and you do take that on board.
“Team selection is my responsibility and the easy thing would be to hide behind it and say it cost us the game. I disagree, but I will always respect other people’s opinions.
“It was a day when Lincoln took the chances they had and they scored at the right times. That isn’t just criticising the strikers, because we had opportunities to defend better as well. However, we did supply the forwards with good chances so that’s something we need to look at.”
The manager used a long period after the full time whistle had blown to begin the process of getting to the bottom of what had been an extremely disappointing away trip.
“Now isn’t the time to defend the changing room, and the players have been made aware of my thoughts,” he said. “Two seasons ago and, being honest, on occasions last season as well, I’d have gone in there and vented my anger.
“Today I tried to be more measured, level-headed and very constructive. I take on board the efforts the lads put in against Sunderland on Tuesday and sometimes you can get carried away with that. This game was the flip side because it was back to League Two and you have to deal with what’s in front of you. We didn’t do that.”
And his final word was for the 600-plus fans who made the trip to Sincil Bank and who showed excellent support, yet again.
“The travelling support was phenomenal,” he agreed. “They’re disappointed right now but we will get them back on board with our performances. The players rightly got a standing ovation after the Sunderland game and that’s why I thought it was important for them to get close to our fans at full time.
“You could tell they didn’t want to do it, because the supporters were venting their frustration, but I wanted to make sure they walked up to them, looked them in the eyes and showed their appreciation.
“In situations like this you have to be able to take the criticism because the fans have come all that way and they’ve just seen their team get turned over. We don’t lack respect for the effort they’ve given us, even when it’s been a poor result, and that’s why I made sure the players went over to see them.”
United PlayerHD subscribers - your platform is now called iFollow United. Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle now.