Keith Curle with Luton post match reactionManager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the home draw with Luton Town shortly after full time on Tuesday night.
“We went back to basics in a lot of ways tonight and there was a very good understanding of what was required as a group,” he said. “The easy thing to do with the run we’ve been on is to look for excuses, and a lot of them could be found, but what we chose to do was to work hard and come up with a system we were comfortable with.
“The players were under no illusion that they had to do their jobs and that they had to see it through. On another night little things could have gone our way and potentially got us the win. The performance wasn’t as free flowing as we wanted it to be but, and this isn’t an excuse, if you take six or seven players out of any team it will change the dynamics.
“Our results have been indifferent recently but this has given us a starting point. It was important for the fans and the changing room that the pride was back in what we are trying to do. We know things aren’t quite going our way but the only way to turn that round is with a strong work ethic.
“That was there in abundance and we kept a clean sheet against a good attacking outfit. That’s another monkey off the back and a negative point which won’t be thrown up now that it’s been achieved.”
“On the other side of it, we know goals will come,” he added. “We’re adapting our style of play to suit what we’ve got available in the dressing room and that means we’re being a little bit more reserved.
“As we start to get more options you’ll see the different styles of play which go with it. We’re starting to get bodies back, we’re hoping to have two fit again for the weekend, and there’s no better time to start scoring again than when you need goals in an important run-in.”
Speaking more about the improvement seen in the overall display, he said: “Make no mistake about it, the players left the dressing room on Saturday night knowing that what they’d done hadn’t been acceptable. I didn’t think the effort or commitment was there at the weekend and that’s not what I’m about.
“We got some good answers from some of the questions we posed to the players. The response and reaction was what was needed. I can take getting beat, because that’s part of the job, but I can’t accept a performance like that. There were plenty of people waving their arms around and saying it wasn’t their fault, which makes people think they’re doing their job when they’re not, and I had to nip that in the bud.
“I had to be quite confrontational and honest with the players because there are times when I’ve got to tell them if I think things aren’t right. That type of approach was needed and ultimately it brought the reaction I wanted.
“I thought the team gave us bravery and good decision making. We still need to improve in the final third but the important thing tonight was that we needed to show we have a backbone. It’s been a difficult period but we asked for a committed performance and that’s what we got.
“I think the last four or five games have seen us using up some of the credits we built up through a run of unbeaten games at the start of the season. We need to continue to work through this and the results will come again.”
And he agreed that a team meeting on Sunday morning had helped to clear the air ahead of last night’s game.
“We had the players in on Sunday to go over it all and the comment they all made was that their tempo wasn’t good enough,” he continued. “That’s when it comes down to working hard because getting that was the norm when we were on a good run. It isn’t about running around like headless chickens with no purpose.
“Once we get back to that level or energy and application being the norm again we can start to be more open and expansive with the rest of our play. We’re down to the bare bones with the injury situation and we’ve had to put young lads on the bench and have players playing out of position. The good thing is we have players coming back and we know we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
On the excellent support from the fans on the night, he said: “The supporters were fantastic. We needed them with us because we’ve been going through a bad time.
“I can tell you that the players felt the support on the pitch because there was a complete lack of moans and groans. As soon as we crossed the half way line they were urging us on, and that’s massive. I’m very thankful for that because they’re a big part of what we want to achieve.
“This stage of the season is about all of us cultivating positives - without being blind. If something is wrong, we need to voice our opinion, but we also need to be doing everything we can to gain every little advantage possible. I think the fans have bought into that.”
And on the protest which took place in the club car park ahead of kick off, he told us: “I was told there was going to be a protest and I saw Nigel [Clibbens], Andrew [Jenkins] and Steven Pattison outside talking to a group of people and I think that’s something which needs to get done more.
“There’s no point in us burying our heads in the sand if some fans are disgruntled. It was pleasing to see the chairman out there because he’s always there to be talked to if you want to talk to him.
“There’s been an underlying current at the football club since the day I arrived that needs to be addressed. You won’t be able to please everybody, I fully understand that, but you can’t afford to ignore it. Sometimes dialogue is what’s been missing and it’s good to see that being addressed.”