We caught up with United manager Keith Curle ahead of the Thursday afternoon training session following a video analysis session which looked at the positive and negative aspects of the weekend game against Notts County.
“The mindset at this stage of the week is about preparation for the game against Chesterfield,” he said. “We tend to use the first part of the Thursday session to look at the games you’ve just played.
“Before that we’ve had a conference call as coaching staff on Wednesday afternoon, where the staff get the opportunity to give me their input on the next game we’ll be playing. We then pull that together on Thursday morning as we start to build our game plan.”
Speaking more about the analysis of the games already played, he told us: “It’s all about performances and there are positives you can take from every game you play. It’s been very pleasing recently to see the things we’ve been working on out on the training ground being put into action to cause teams problems.
“The passing and rotation has been very good, and the willingness to work in dangerous areas of the pitch is good to watch. Those areas were identified and targeted for improvement, and we’ve got that.
“Part of the analysis session was to show the players where they had successfully replicated the information they’d been given during the game. If you’re not careful the video sessions can turn into a free-for-all, particularly off the back of a defeat, so you have to look out for that.
“We don’t allow it go that way because we want it to be constructive and a positive learning tool. There has to be a degree of honesty because the other factor is that football managers can be very protective and can come up with a lot of reasons, rationales and a good few ‘ifs and ands’ if things aren’t going your way. We do them to identify the good and the bad, however much that might go against your natural instinct.”
“What we’ve found today is that the mood is more towards being light-hearted in the dressing room off the back of a few good performances,” he added. “We want that to continue. There’s also healthy competition for places with Tom Parkes and Danny Grainger raring to go, as was Richie Bennett when he came off the bench on Saturday.
“All clubs go through periods where players are unavailable and statistically you work off 20% of your squad being unavailable for selection at any given time, due to injury, suspension or a number of other factors. If you take 20% away from a small and compact squad you do find that you become stretched.
“Within that we’ve still managed to put square pegs in square holes and we’ve developed a culture whereby players know that if a door closes for one of them somebody else must be ready to step in, give a good account of themselves and take their chance.
“The last few games have given us players, who to a man have been itching to play, conducting themselves very professionally and showing us that they’ve kept on top of fitness levels so that they’re ready to fight for their place.
“Tom Miller has been a prime example of that because he hasn’t been able to get in at his regular position for a number of weeks now. We asked him to slot in at left back and he’s done exceptionally well. Fitness wise he’s been up to the mark, and that’s completely down to him and the attitude he has to the work he does.
“Going forward my job is to pick the team which I think will get us points. I’ve never been scared about making decisions and I’ve always had an open-door policy if a player has felt disappointed about missing out. The fact is you can only pick eleven to start and I always have reasons as to why I’ve gone with what I’ve gone with.”
“Tom Parkes and Danny Grainger will both be raring to go, I know that, because they’re just like everybody else,” he commented. “They’re here to do well for the club and for themselves by playing football.
“It’s been a horrible spell for Tom because he’s had what must have felt like a long suspension to suffer. He’ll learn from that, but he’ll have been as pleased as anyone else that our central defenders have performed well.
“It isn’t a given for him or anyone else that they’ll get the nod because, as I keep saying, I pick the team based on winning games and performing well.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.