United boss Keith Curle spoke to us ahead of the visit of Swindon Town on Saturday afternoon as the new season kicks off with a home game at Brunton Park.
“Swindon will be a really tough first test for us because they will want to put right what went wrong last season,” he said. “I think all of the teams that came down will have aspirations to go straight back up.
“Likewise those teams who came up from the National League will want to do what Bristol Rovers did the year before and get another promotion. You get a promotion feeling when you’ve had success at a club and good teams will ride that wave.
“There are some big clubs who have come down from League One and I’m sure they’ll be throwing everything at it. However, and as this club saw just a few years ago, the flip side of the coin can be that you get caught up in the negative feelings which come with relegation and you can end up battling at the wrong end of the table again.”
“This game is the first of our challenges and we’re looking forward to it,” he commented. “Swindon have a new body of players and I think the manager only had six signed up when he first went in there.
“I know Dave Flitcroft as a character and he’s a very organised person. He’s worked hard to mould a team together in a short space of time and he has done that well. His nature will mean that his team is very competitive because he’s gone into a club that wants to feel the enjoyment of success again.
“It is a group of players who haven’t had much time together so they won’t know right now what it is they’re going to produce. That’s not always a bad thing because if you put good players together, as they have, it can sometimes just happen naturally for them.”
Speaking about the readiness levels of his own squad, he said: “We’ll face different challenges but I’m a real believer that it will take 16 games or so before we find out where we’re going to fit within the pack.
We could face a lot of different scenarios as we go through the season but I have a squad here which is flexible and which will be able to deal with it ...
“We could face a lot of different scenarios as we go through the season but I have a squad here which is flexible and which will be able to deal with it. The players we’ve assembled aren’t restricted to particular roles or jobs and that’s always going to be good. It will mean that we won’t be predictable and we’ll be able to use a number of different approaches.
“We’re a management team and group of players which are always looking to improve in everything we do. The natural progression is that we want to finish above where we finished last season.
“I think we have a very competitive squad and I’d look for us to finish in the top half of the table this time round. Everything is being done correctly so that we create an environment which will help us to bring success to this club. Along the way we need things to go our way, but we know that everything we get this season will be earned.
“That starts on Saturday. We’ll have to earn the right to take our game to Swindon through hard work and attention to detail. The players will be given the tools and hopefully they’ll go out there and get us the start to the season we all want.”
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