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MANAGER: We made it look like hard work

2 January 2017

Keith Curle with reaction to the Grimsby home game

Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the Grimsby defeat on Monday afternoon.

“I’m gutted that we lost today,” he said. “The difference was that we didn’t deal with their centre forwards. I was more than happy to go in at one-nil up at half time, because it slightly flattered us, and I wouldn’t have been disappointed had we got there at nil-nil.

“Their shape gave us a few problems but going in front gave us a good foothold in the game. They had some good possession but they weren’t hurting us. We needed to show a bit more in the way of personality to create a bit of dominance after the break but we didn’t do that and we let them score a very soft goal.

“Let’s face it, once you let a centre forward of his quality get the edge on you he’s going to cause all kinds of problems. He scored their first at what was a very bad time for us and it let them get their heads up.”

“I really don’t think we defended well as a unit at all,” he continued. “It was poor defending for all three goals and that left us chasing it a bit. The situation of playing two games in three days can affect players and we have to be honest and say that we looked as if we’d played a game two days ago.

“We made it look like hard work and the disappointing thing from a defensive point of view is that we let their very good striker have the kind of game he wanted. I don’t think we upset him enough and we didn’t try to disrupt his rhythm at all. He’s probably a million pound player in waiting and he’s showing that he can cause teams real problems.

“None of our centre backs were cautioned for a tackle on him – and I’m not saying that’s the only way to defend – but sometimes you’ve got to get them thinking about other things rather than allowing them to enjoy their afternoon at Brunton Park. You need to be able to employ different skill sets to deal with different players and we didn’t quite get to grips with that.”

“We were better in the first half and I think we only allowed them to have one shot,” he said. “We scored the goal and we had a few little scrambles after that and, as ever, if we’d got that second goal it could have been a completely different game.

“Their first goal in the second half showed an area we need to improve. Conceding from a set piece was also very disappointing. The good thing is that the way we defend and mark means we’re able to point the finger. If somebody scores and you’re marking him it means you haven’t done your job.”

On the work to be done this week, he said: “I’ve never said that we’re the finished article but we are a team which learns. We’ve also got some very honest players, with good character, and we have to remember that we’re doing very well despite this result.

“These lads won’t get off the bus. Today wasn’t a day to go into the dressing room and voice my opinions but it goes without saying that this isn’t the way I wanted the year to start. However, I still have belief in what these players can do so the way to approach our disappointment is to analyse what we did and make sure we act on the areas where we know we can get better. If criticism is directed at a player they know it isn’t personal but I will always highlight areas which need to be worked on. They all know that.”

“The pleasing thing is that there were periods in the game where you could see why we are where we are,” he commented. “We just needed to see more of it. Our goal was a snapshot of what we’re about because it was a quality pass and a very good finish.”

“It’s annoying me that we haven’t been able to keep a clean sheet,” he told us. “It’s been a bug-bear of mine that we haven’t been keeping enough of them and that’s something we will address. I think we’ve had 16 games since we kept one so that now requires some reflection and work on our shape.

“Perhaps we need to be more aggressive in our demeanour and in our understanding of what our roles and jobs are. In your own box you do whatever you can to make sure your man doesn’t score, it’s as simple as that.

“I’m a defender at heart and I don’t like conceding goals. I like to see a mentality where every player is working hard to stop balls into the box. At the moment we’re allowing too much of that to happen and it’s costing us.

“I thought this was a day where we missed Danny Grainger and we missed the personality and footballing presence of Mike Jones. What we have to make sure is that we don’t crumble just because of one poor defeat. Some of our decision making may not have been good but the attitude and application is very much still there.

“We might look at it and decide that this is a good time for some players to have a rest and allow those players who are chomping at the bit to force their way in. Players have peaks and troughs in their performances and I fully understand that. We’ll look at that and we’ll continue to select the eleven we feel will get us the result.”

On yet another goal for striker Charlie Wyke, he said: “He will score goals no matter what division he’s playing in. He has the ability to get them at any level and within that he’s playing beside different personnel and in different formations. That can only stand him in good stead.

“He’ll be as disappointed as anyone because we’ve lost a game of football. It’s a different challenge and scenario for us to deal with as a group but I’m sure we will.”

Just over 6,000 United fans came to the game and the manager was quick to praise them for their support.

“I have to say a huge thank you to the fans who turned up,” he said. “Those are the numbers we want because it helps us massively. It was phenomenal support and all I would say to them is that we want them to come back because we will put in performances and get the results their attendance deserves.”

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