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MANAGER: It feels like it's been a while since we've been at home

Keith Curle ahead of the Saturday visit of Port Vale

15 December 2017

United’s game against Gillingham was the first home fixture to fall foul of cold weather since 28 December 2010 when a country-wide freeze knocked the game against Exeter City for six.

But United’s boss Keith Curle took the postponement in his stride as he quickly switched focus to the visit of Port Vale tomorrow.

“Obviously everything was geared through last Sunday and Monday to prepare for the game on Tuesday night, but the weather had other ideas,” he said. “We tried to be as courteous as we could to Gillingham by giving them as much notice as we possibly could.

“We spoke to the FA and we got the referee in as early as was possible on Tuesday morning, because if it was going to be off we wanted to be able to stop Gillingham and their supporters from having to travel.

“That was done in the correct manner, but it will always be disappointing because mentally the preparations for the game had gone very well. We’re the same as everybody else in that it becomes a bit of an anti-climax when the notification comes through that the game is off.

“It’s one of those where you start to wonder what to do with the rest of your day. We were able to get a training session in with the players and we gave them the day off on Wednesday as our mindset changed automatically to what we have to do to beat Port Vale.”

“The postponement did mean that we would have a little bit more time to work on the Port Vale game, so the staff have used that extra day productively,” he added. “Like I say, the players do get a level of frustration because they’re ready to play.

“We made sure the training session was bright and breezy on Tuesday and they were back in work this morning [Thursday] ready to go again. They’re the same as us because they knew as soon as the Gillingham game was gone that their next opportunity to play would be Saturday.

“I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but you can only take it one game at a time. However, that’s what we do. Our focus is always on our next opponent, whoever that may be.”

“We’ve looked at the clips and reports about Port Vale, and we’ve watched them ourselves, so we know where their strengths and weaknesses lie,” he said. “Having said that, they won’t make it easy for us.

“All too often you see clubs who are relegated, and who are on a slight slide, struggle to adjust to the new division. They need to stop the slide because, as we all know, it can continue alarmingly if you don’t address it.

“It happened to this club three or four years ago when they ended up being adrift having suffered the relegation. As I said when I came to the club, the decline isn’t always purely field-based, and it becomes a case of the whole football club needing to pull together to get out of it.

“Having been through it myself, it gives me an understanding of what Neil [Aspin] is going through, but he doesn’t need me to tell him what to do. He knows that club really well from the playing career he had, and he has a real affiliation with it.

“Some of the staff he’s appointed are also closely linked with the club as well so there’ll be a real determination in there to turn things round.”

On what we can expect on Saturday, with the Valiants having been through one heck of a cup tie at Yeovil on Tuesday, he told us: “They went down to nine men and they still had the physical exertion of extra time to deal with.

“The journey to Yeovil and back isn’t a short one, so mentally and physically the week they’ve had could take its toll on the players. But, what I will say is that they’re professional people and players and I know they’ll prepare correctly.

“Don’t let the league position fool you because they’ll be difficult to beat. They have good experience in the squad with players who have notched up a lot of games between them. I’m sure they’ve all got a good understanding of the situation they’re in, and what’s needed to change it.”

“Because of our schedule recently it feels like it’s been a while since we’ve been at home,” he commented. “We like playing at Brunton Park because it’s a great playing surface and we get good backing from our supporters.

“I’ve said it a lot recently, but if I had an option of where I would win most of our games it would be in front of our own fans.

“One of the positives from the game we missed on Tuesday was that we had a few players who were carrying a few little twinges and tweaks. The extra time is time well spent for those players to continue with their rehabilitation.

“I know Danny [Grainger] is bursting at the seams to get back out there but, and as we saw when Tom Parkes missed his games through suspension, other players step up and do a good job. It’s a small squad, but it’s very competitive, and players like Tom Miller have shown how good and professional their attitude is.

“He hadn’t been in the starting eleven, but I called on him to come into the side and he was more than ready to answer that call. The work ethic shown by him and the others – Jamie Devitt is another who keeps getting mentioned – has been exemplary. They’ve stayed on board with what we’re trying to create, and they know that means that when they get their opportunity they’ve got to be in the right frame of mind to take it.

“Tom is a good example of that because he was involved in all three goals on Saturday and he played very well defensively. That comes down to having a good attitude and commitment to your profession.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.   

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.

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