Keith Curle with reaction to the Notts County gameManager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the New Year’s Eve away victory at Meadow Lane shortly after full time on Saturday.
“We started very well in the first half,” he said. “We stuck to the game plan because we thought we could give them problems by putting the ball in the middle of their goal mouth area, repeatedly.
“That bore fruit straight away from our set pieces where I thought we looked very dangerous. We had a number of chances where we could have scored two or three more goals and I think that would have been game over.”
“A little bit of poor decision making and poor defending gave them an opportunity to get back in the game with the equaliser,” he commented. “Their second goal was disappointing for a number of factors but the resolve and character we have in the group then shone through.
“I thought the minimum we deserved to go into half time with was at all-square and it was pleasing that we got that. From there we had to have the strength of character and belief to understand that we had 47 or 48 minutes to go on and win the game.
“We felt confident as a group that we’d create chances and there was determination in there to get the points they knew were available for them. I’m disappointed for Notts County and where they are because it’s a club I have a lot of time for. I felt I was putting foundations down when I was here but a lot has changed since I moved on.”
The result put United seven points clear of the play-off mix, in second spot in the automatic promotion places, and the manager admitted that it was a good place to be as we reached the season’s half way point.
“It’s really pleasing to be where we are for everybody associated with the football club,” he said. “A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to help us do what we do and this is a reward for everybody for that. It’s nice to be with a football club which has entrusted me with doing the job of putting pillars and building blocks in place for continued success.
“The game today typified that because you don’t roll out performances like this if your foundations aren’t in place. You need strength of character and unity within the dressing room to be able to beat dogged teams like Notts County.”
On the overall performance, he said: “We spoke before kick off about the fact that there were key areas of the pitch where we needed to earn the right to play. I thought we did that and, as I say, we had enough opportunities to have killed the game off.
“We created a lot of chances and we’re at a point with Nicky Adams where they’re calling him Robinsons. That’s because everything he delivers has jam on. He puts balls in the box and there’s an art to it now because people are putting runs in towards the goal and he’sf finding them.
“I have to say, that doesn’t just happen. It isn’t down to luck either, because the harder you work the luckier you get. That’s a saying we thrive on because we spend a lot of time making sure players know how to make the runs and where the best places are to be when they know the ball is going to be coming in with quality.
“I thought our two strikers were excellent with their movement and, on another day, they could have had another couple of goals each. I still think the stand out performance as far as I’m concerned from Charlie and Jabo playing together was when we played at Deepdale last season. They gave a master class on how to work that role together.
“Add to that another goal for Jason [Kennedy] – and I think it’s fair to say he can’t believe the season he’s having either. I’m pleased for him because he’s an excellent professional who is working extremely hard at his trade.”
With the transfer window now open, he said: “I’m not the kind of manager who will panic and go banging on doors just for the sake of it. We’ve identified players with skill sets we feel will improve the squad, but I’m also fully aware that we already have a very good squad here.
“We’re happy with where we are but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. We’re by no means the finished article and that’s the message we’ve been giving to the players. They know we’re still very much in a work and improvement mode.
“There’s a minimum requirement we need from them and they all know what that is every time they walk through the door. As I say, the pleasing thing is that there’s still more to come from this squad of players.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s Grimsby game, he said: “My final address to the players after the Saturday game was to remind them that Monday is a challenge. Playing back-to-back like this is something we haven’t done for a couple of years now.
“They know they need to prepare correctly because the work we’ve done through the first half of the season has been done to give us a stepping stone towards the success we all crave. I’ve got to say that the fans who’ve been coming to watch us have been superb.
“The atmosphere they create allows us to go out and perform and it’s a very good environment for us to work in. It’s another game for us all to look forward to and we go into with the desire to get the points and put on another exciting and entertaining performance.”