Keith Curle with his reaction to the Wycombe away victoryUnited manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the away victory at Adams Park on Saturday afternoon.
“The aftermath of the slap in the face we got as a football club meant that we needed to have a reaction. It wasn’t about feeling sorry for ourselves because we knew it was down to the playing side of the football club to put right something we were completely responsible for.
“We told the players that they had two fantastic challenges coming up after that game. One was against the best team in the division, with the way they play their football and the results they’re getting, and we beat them. The next was against arguably the most direct team in the division who are all completely tuned in to how their manager wants them to play.
“They are very good at what they do and they offer up different challenges within a game. It was always going to be a battering of an afternoon and our lads were drilled that if they showed any weakness in their ranks at all, Wycombe would expose and find it. They want to see who isn’t up for it and who isn’t brave enough. I thought we stood up manfully to the challenge and we dealt with it.”
“We went in ahead at half time but we warned the players not to expect anything different in the second half,” he continued. “We told them it would be more of the same and they were going to have to withstand it. You earn your luck by working hard and I have to say that Shaun Brisley and Michael Raynes were the kind of centre backs I want in my football team.
“They went up against a very good player, who makes life difficult for people, and they defended like they wanted to win every ball. I like that and I thought they were exceptional.”
“I have to say, we have a lot of respect for the way Wycombe play because it gets them results,” he continued. “Teams can come unstuck here if they show any kind of soft centre. The first goal of the game was an example of that. We got caught flat-footed, but if there’s a good time to concede a goal it’s at that stage of the game.
“We had time to put it right and the finish from Jamie [Proctor] was fantastic. We then got in front with something we’ve been working on with Reggie [Lambe]. We’ve told him to get beyond the ball and to use his experience to find the right time to gamble.”
With the club now sat five points clear in third place, he said: “It’s not about other people’s results at the moment. We’ve got to take care of our business. Our focus is completely and utterly on what we do. We keep looking at the teams above us because we want to catch them. They are where they are on merit, but so are we.
“Everything we’re going to get as a group we’re going to have to earn. The good thing is that we have a fantastic work ethic and these lads want to win every single game. What we will remind them is that just because they’ve won the last two games it doesn’t mean the Blackpool result isn’t still etched firmly in our minds, because it is.
“That result will serve as the best reminder of what can happen if you don’t do your job. What I will say is that there’s nothing to be scared of in this division. We’ve got a very small squad, but it’s very competitive. The players have demands put on them and they know if they’re not right they’ll got told and there’ll be someone there waiting to take their place. That’s a pleasing situation for a manager to have.”
The latter stages of the second half of Saturday’s game saw the manager sent to the stands, following a discussion between the referee and his fourth official, and he admitted that it was all part and parcel of a feisty afternoon.
“I think it happened for being too good looking, so I can understand it,” he joked. “I was disappointed to get sent to the stand because I know my boundaries. I’d had a warning, which I’d adhered to, but there was nothing more than banter going backwards and forwards between the benches.
“I was asked to leave, so I left. It’s like being refused entry to a nightclub – that’s happened to me before as well, and all you do is walk away and go and find a party elsewhere.
“Gareth came and had a quick word with me and there’s a lot of respect between me and him. There’s a lot of respect between our staff and their staff as well. We’re all very competitive and we will all fight for every point, so it’s just one of those.”
Speaking about the impact forward Jamie Proctor has had since he arrived on-loan from Bolton, he said: “He’s a good player. I like his character because he has a positive impact on people around him. He does exactly what he says on the tin and he asks for and demands quality balls into him. He’s a great focal point and if you give him that type of service he will do his job, because he has an excellent work ethic.
“He knows how to wear that number nine shirt and he understands the responsibilities which go with it. There’s an eye for goal with him but there’s more to the way he plays than just being a goal threat.”
Looking ahead to another big challenge next weekend, he said: “There are no excuses now. If we don’t get nine or ten thousand supporters there then I don’t know what else I can do.
“We’ve got this football club into a fantastic position and we know that Portsmouth are going to bring a lot of fans with them. Let me tell you, they won’t be quiet, but I know they won’t out-shout us.
“If you’re a Carlisle supporter and you’re in your house listening to the radio next Saturday then you’re wrong. It doesn’t matter what’s gone on in the past, this is about what we’re trying to achieve now. All I can ask is that you come to the game – lend your support.
“The fans with us today were just brilliant. It was a fantastic effort and commitment from them. They know they’re going to get everything from their players, even if mistakes are made, and they desperately want us to do well.
“We want everyone to enjoy this result this weekend because the focus will very quickly switch to that massive test we’ll face next Saturday.”