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MANAGER: Sometimes you need a kick up the backside

Keith Curle with his thoughts on the first game of the season

6 August 2017

United manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to what had been a disappointing opening day result at Brunton Park on Saturday afternoon.

“We’re obviously in a results industry so today was very frustrating,” he said. “We got off to a slow start and you could see that a few nerves crept in. I’m very disappointed with the result and we’ve seen that there are still elements of our game which we need to work on and improve.

“I don’t think we started the game at the right tempo at all. Overall there were some pleasing points to come out of it and sometimes what you need is a kick up the backside very early doors to remind everyone that you need to be better individually and collectively.

“The latter stages of the game saw us play more like the way we want to because we were getting into wide areas and creating opportunities.”

“I haven’t seen the first goal but I thought it was offside,” he continued. “That gave them a lift and something to defend. The second goal came from a stupid mistake which we will learn from.

“We got the goal back and in the last 15 minutes we thought they were there for the taking. They sat back and they couldn’t deal with us. It was a great finish from Luke Joyce and that’s something we’ve been working on. He showed the composure when the ball came back to him to hit the target.

“I think we had at least five chances but we just couldn’t put it past the goalkeeper. The players are gutted because I don’t think we’ve been outplayed or outclassed. We just didn’t get the run of the ball today in the final third. We gifted them the second goal and I’ve been told the first goal was offside. Even the lad who scored thought he was offside.”

“I have to say that our quality in the final third wasn’t good enough in the first 45 minutes and our decision making in how we delivered it wasn’t good enough either,” he commented. “That got better in the second half when we had a different type of threat and I think Richie Bennett could have had a hat-trick on another day. He’s a good player who gets in good areas so his goals will come.

“You don’t win or lose anything after the first game of the season but we will take the lessons from it. What you have to remember is that managers and players at all levels will make mistakes in this game. It’s how you learn from them that matters.

There are bits and pieces I think we can improve on and likewise there are positives to come out of the game as well ...

Keith Curle

“There are bits and pieces I think we can improve on and likewise there are positives to come out of the game as well. It’s also a reminder that it isn’t all about entertaining, it’s about an end product.

“Of course we want to go out and win games and we want to entertain. The lads are disappointed because they know there were points to be had today, whether that was one or all three. We got balls into the box with good quality, we just didn’t quite get the run of the ball, but that will change.

“We had decisions go against us and there was what looked to be a blatant penalty when Hallam [Hope] was pulled. The fourth official told me there was contact but not enough to bring him down. That sort of stuff is frustrating but this isn’t about the officials. It’s about us learning from our mistakes.”

Speaking more about the errors which handed the visitors a two-goal lead, he said: “That is the most frustrating thing about the result. You could tell they were a first division outfit last season and they took advantage of the lapses from us.

“We’ll go over the good and bad points from the game so we can eliminate the areas which have caused us problems. We caused them problems today from wide areas and got good balls into the box. Sometimes football can be very simple.

“I thought we were a little bit deep for the set piece but it was a great ball in. Danny [Grainger] put a similar type of delivery into their area and the defender got there just in time.
“For their second goal Mike Jones was caught in two minds because he could have used the keeper, but he wanted to be forward thinking. If any player makes a wrong decision we have to learn from it.

“What we don’t do is castigate anyone or start to point the finger at this stage. People don’t develop or progress within a blame culture. We’re trying to improve and even when one of our more trusted players makes an error we make sure we deal with it.

“Mike will be disappointed with his game because everybody wants to be back up to the levels we were at last season. Sometimes you want to see that disappointment in players’ faces when they get beat because we know and they know that they can do better.

“There is enough there to give me optimism going into the start of the season. Finances are very tight at the minute but the aspiration and the aim is still for us to finish higher. I can deal with that pressure and the criticism but we do need the backing of the supporters. The board make sure every penny possible comes to the football department and that’s important.

“The fans were behind us today and they were very vocal. If we can keep the numbers up it will generate more money, so I hope they will continue to come along to cheer us on. We’ve taken a slap in the face but what we don’t do is get off the bus.”

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