Keith Curle on preparing properly for another big gameUnited came out of a pulsating fixture on Sunday night with work still to do but manager Keith Curle insisted that the early part of this week is as much about building on the emotional highs as it is about getting the technical and tactical messages across to his group.
“There’s a good vibe about the place,” he said. “We’ve been training on the main pitch and that’s helping us to prepare in the way we want to. There’s buoyancy within the group, which you’d expect, because they’re enjoying themselves.
“I think Monday saw a level of fatigue – not so much amongst the players but with the supporters. I know they felt worn out and shattered because of the level support they’d given us on Sunday.
“We all went through a rollercoaster of emotions and I think that took its toll on the fans. The players are used to it though and they trained very well on Monday. It was the same on Tuesday and that’s helping us to make sure the mental and physical preparation is spot on.”
“I have to say thank you to the fans because all the way through the build up to the game you could tell it was going to be a spectacle and an occasion because of the way they approached it,” he continued. “The players did their bit and they dealt with the fact it was the biggest home league game here for a while.
“Everything from the sun shining to the strange kick off time made it feel different and both clubs did League Two very proud in the end. There was character and ability and we showed that we could play football as well. Some of the defending from both teams was disappointing but there was also a lot of very good stuff on show.”
Looking back at how he had viewed the game, he said: “I enjoyed it. My players were set a real challenge because they were two goals behind to a very good side. Exeter were on the front foot and they’d had a goal disallowed which would have made it an even more difficult ask.
“I’ve got to say that there’s willingness and desire in that changing room which is exactly what is needed when you want to grind out results of this magnitude. There’s a demand from me and my players that we never give a game up, whatever situation we face. We’ve had to instil that mindset, but it’s getting there. This changing room has a never-say-die attitude and I’m very proud of the response I’ve had from these players.”
Speaking about the size of the crowd, he said: “What I say to those people is that I know you’re out there now. I hope they enjoyed the way they were represented by their players but if anyone didn’t enjoy their experience we want to hear about it and we want to find out why that was the case.
“Those who are staying away are missing football they’d be proud of. There’s a new mentality growing here and we want everyone to be part of it.”
As the players prepare to make the journey down to St James’ Park the United boss revealed that a much quicker form of transport was being utilised this time round.
“We train Wednesday morning and fly down later that day,” he explained. “I made the request to the owners for how I thought it would be best to get down there and they’ve backed me. We think this is the right thing to do and the club has agreed.
“I actually won’t be on the plane because we’re already looking at recruitment for next season. I met a player and his representative yesterday [Monday] and Lee Dykes is coming with me on Wednesday to meet two more. One of these players will definitely be an excellent addition if we go up. If we’re unsuccessful and we don’t go up, he’ll be a phenomenal addition.”
And with an update on the injury situation, he said: “We go there with an almost clean bill of health. Jason Kennedy is chomping at the bit because he’s sick of missing out. All of these players want to be out there because they want success for this club.
“Jabo [Ibehre] has been through a work load on Tuesday which, hopefully, won’t bring any reaction. If he’s fine he’ll go through a different regime on Wednesday to see if we can have him for 45 minutes or so during the game.
“Let me tell you, that’s a name they won’t want to see on the team sheet, but he knows his own body and we’ll be led by him and our medical staff.”
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