Keith Curle on the Exeter defeatUnited boss Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the play-off semi-final second leg away defeat at Exeter shortly after full time on Thursday evening.
“Football can be a cruel game,” he said. “I’ve just spoken to the players and told them to make sure they walk out of this stadium with their heads held high. I’m very proud of the level of commitment, the performance and the character they’ve shown, as well as their representation of not only me, but Carlisle United.
“I think they’ve given me everything they’ve got to give. They came off the pitch with an element of disappointment but what we won’t do is sulk out of here. We know we can improve because there’s been a level of improvement over the period of time I’ve been here due to the stakeholders backing me.”
“There is a winning mentality in this football club now that we need to maintain,” he continued. “We’ve enjoyed the challenges and we’ve taken a very good team all the way. Exeter have had a manager in place for a long time and he’s been able to put foundations in place for over ten years. We’ve given them a very good run for their money so, as a football club, we have to walk out of this stadium very proud.
“During the game we showed yet again that we won’t give in. I’m proud of that and I’m proud of how we approached the last 20 minutes of the game. There will be changes at this football club because there needs to be, but we don’t need that character to walk out the door. I demand that the players give me everything they’ve got. I’ve told them that individually and collectively, they’ve done me proud.”
“It was another of those games where even at two goals down there was a frailty and a nervousness edge about them which meant we were still in the tie,” he commented. “We got the goals and got ourselves back into it then the players were sitting back waiting for extra time. Space doesn’t score goals, men do. Getting back behind the ball isn’t enough, go and mark men and make sure you come out on top of your man.
“They’ve put two balls into the top corner so they’ve shown that bit of quality in their finishing. We’ve shown the character that we can build on and that’s got to be a part of the foundation and the pillars of our success.
“The people who have watched these games will have seen two managers setting up their teams to go and play entertaining and attacking football. We’ve got to say well done to Paul [Tisdale] and his team and wish them well at Wembley.”
When asked to describe his emotions, he said: “I’m fuming. The easy thing for me to do would be to get in my car and go home and sulk. That isn’t me. I made sure the players didn’t just shut the door of the changing room. I made sure they opened it and listened to Exeter celebrate. I told them it was the sound of success and it hurts you because it’s been taken away from you. The pain we felt has got to be the foundation for next season.
“I’ve done it before as a player, when other teams have come on the last day and celebrated promotion and things like that. It’s one of those - it’s got to drive you on. Watching other people enjoy the success you strive for has got to drive you on. We want success and we’ve got to demand it.
“Overall the players have represented the club and its supporters extremely well. We’re in the process of putting building blocks and character in place at our club and our aim has to be to finish top of the division next season. We’re not going to have the biggest budget and our playing budget is actually between twelfth and sixteenth in this division.
“We are competing with clubs who have fantastic budgets but the people who come into our club have good character and ability. They give us everything they’ve got and there’s a level of understanding which is growing. There’s a level of respect for the word professional in the football club now and we’re giving ourselves the best opportunity possible by utilising our money very well.”
On the near-600 fans who made the trip to Exeter on Thursday night, he said: “They have been absolutely phenomenal, right from the first game of the season. We have a large number of supporters who have taken every step with us and it’s a massive thank you from us for that.
“I know the players appreciate it and I think the football community appreciates the backing the Carlisle fans give their team. There are some familiar faces I see every game and I think they’re starting to feel proud of their team again.
“I’m very proud to be part of a football club which is well respected and makes a lot of friends wherever we go because of the level of our support. Other football fans understand and appreciate that you don’t support Carlisle United on a whim. It takes real fans.
“I’ve got to say a massive thank you to the fans who travelled tonight and the ones who have backed us all season.”
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