United boss Keith Curle spoke to us about the Saturday visit of Mansfield Town at his Friday afternoon press conference.
“Mansfield have put together a squad with a lot of players,” he said. “A lot of them are players I spoke to in the summer and had also showed an interest in. That probably goes for every other club in League Two and a few clubs from League One as well.
“They were able to financially outbid clubs from this division and the division above, so they have got a good array of talent. “They’ve also got a manager with a proven record of getting success when he’s had funds available to spend.
“If you look at their team there are probably five players you would expect to start and then it’s a case of which formations and systems Steve [Evans] is going to put out which he thinks will bring him success. He’s got good options, good choices and some good players.”
“I like going shopping as much as any manager and I’m sure Steve enjoys it when he’s able to outbid others, but it all brings a different type of pressure,” he added. “I think Steve has a very good relationship with the chairman and the owners at Mansfield and that’s been shown in the money they’ve given him to spend and the belief they’ve got in him.
“They’re still settling their new group down but it isn’t all about how you start a season, it’s how you end it. Look at Exeter, they were bottom when we beat them here last season and they ended up finishing above us. Once Mansfield get going I’m sure they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
On the excitement we can expect to see from the technical area, he told us: “I’m sure the Paddock will give him plenty but I know he enjoys it.
“I worked with Neil Warnock, people said he was like marmite, he used to walk out into stadiums and he would get all sorts of abuse. They would be slaughtering him and he would turn around and ask me if I could hear them all singing his name. He wasn’t fazed by it and it didn’t irritate him - I think he was quite happy that all those people knew his name.
“Steve Evans will wind our supporters up tomorrow and our supporters will wind him up. He’ll give as good as he gets and I think he’ll probably be looking forward to it. When you actually meet him, before or after a game, as a bloke he’s alright.
“He becomes a different character on the side of the pitch for the 90 minutes. I’ve had a few bust ups with him but I’ve then gone into his office and his response has always been, ‘it’s just a game Keith’. I show all managers the same respect after a game and it won’t be any different tomorrow.”
“We’ll be very competitive tomorrow,” he commented. “We’ve got a style of football which we want to try and play and we’re gaining an understanding of how to win games. We’ve got a good understanding individually and collectively of what we’re trying to build and what we’re trying to create.
“Team selection wise I’m trying my hardest to keep 5,200 people happy! They’ve all got an opinion and they’ve all got an ideal team. I’ve got to pick the team I think is going to get me the result.
“I can guarantee I’ll upset a few people and I’ll also pleasantly surprise a few people. Ultimately, I’m going to pick the team that I think is going to get me the result tomorrow. I’m here to be judged on that.”
“Tom Parkes will serve his suspension tomorrow but he’ll be working hard over the next few days to make sure he can get back into the team when he’s available,” he added. “I’ve been very pleased with Tom, not just because of his performances but also his attitude towards the challenge that I set him at the beginning of the season. He’s taken that challenge on board and I think he’s improving and learning as well as enjoying his football.
“We’ve got good levels of competition within the squad. Within that there is always going to be disappointment, because there will always be players who end up not playing on a Saturday or Tuesday. Part of my job with that is to make sure everyone stays on board with it.”
And on what we can expect to see from the 90 minutes, he said: “I think Mansfield aren’t too dissimilar to ourselves, they can mix it up when they need to. They can play on the front foot, they can get the ball down and they can play various formations.
“They have square pegs they can put in square holes depending on how the game pans out. Their starting team could potentially have rotation in it so they can adopt different formations within that team. They have some good options but they’ll have one eye on what they think our team is going to be.”
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