United boss Keith Curle spoke to us ahead of tonight’s Carabao Cup meeting with Sunderland about what is building up to be an exciting game.
“We started to focus on the Sunderland game on Sunday morning,” he said. “We had a debrief with the rest of the staff about Saturday’s game as we were driving home and then we collated the analysis and information we have so that we could start the work on our next fixture.
“From there we started to plot our game plan and identify the strengths they’ve got. Some of them are quite obvious, because they’ve got some good players, and we’re going to have to deal with that.”
“One thing we do know is that we’ll be competitive,” he continued. “I think we’ve shown in the games against Liverpool, Everton, QPR and Derby that we don’t shy away from any challenge, however big the team is.
We accept challenges and there will be an element of bravery which is needed when you’re playing against good players ...
“We accept challenges and there will be an element of bravery which is needed when you’re playing against good players. We won’t get overawed by them, but we’ll be very respectful.”
And on what we can expect from his team, he told us: “It’s still early days but the squad has been rotated and I’m getting the opportunity to look at players in different situations.
“We’re going to need that flexibility and we’re going to need that squad to create the environment where everybody feels part of it and everybody is capable of playing as and when needed.
“Mark Ellis is an example of playing well and keeping the shirt, but he also shows that the door doesn’t close on anybody just because they aren’t selected or even, as in Mark’s case, have to go out on loan.
“He needed to go out and regain his focus and come back with belief in himself. I’ve got to say he’s conducted himself excellently and accepted the challenge which has been thrown down to him.
“That’s been the same for all of the players and the question I’ve asked them is - can we maintain the success we had last season but also go one better?”
“The really pleasing thing is that the supporters around the stadium are appreciating the hard work which is being done on the field of play,” he told us. “They’re appreciating the goals, the drama and the commitment.
“There was one occasion when one of their players was on the ball on Saturday and we had three of our players around him. I know the supporters like that as well as meaty challenges. We don’t take a backwards step because we have a competitive environment that’s enjoyable to work in, and we’ll be the same for Sunderland tonight.”
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