Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about Saturday’s trip to Crewe at his Friday afternoon press conference.
“Crewe are similar to ourselves in that they haven’t quite hit the ground running yet,” he said. “They’ve had a couple of good results and a couple of negative results. They’re still finding their feet having brought some good players into the squad, but I’m sure that will come.
“I think everybody would have said that what they’ve been lacking over a period of time has been physicality, and they’ve addressed that with some of the signings they’ve made. They now have experience and men in the team, and you would say that it gives them the platform from which their younger players can learn and express themselves in the way that Crewe players do.”
“That’s another similarity between the clubs because we want to get the ball down and play as much as we can,” he commented. “That’s why I’d say that this encounter will be a football match with both teams wanting to play in the right areas. Within that I think both sides are equipped to do the ugly side of the game, if it comes to it.
“We’ve been slightly experimental through the early part of the season, particularly with the new personnel we’ve had coming into the squad. I’m brave enough to look at different formations and different personnel as we try to get that fluidity in our approach that we’re all looking for.
“Some people are asking why I keep changing things, but at the moment I haven’t had exactly what I’ve been looking for because we haven’t been winning games. That’s why I’m prepared to make changes as we keep trying to get the players to develop and learn individual roles within different formations and systems so that we can find our winning formula.
“In some cases the early part of the season is about ironing things out and that can sometimes come off the back of a negative result. What we don’t do is back away from the way we ultimately want to play. To do that we know we have to earn the right to play our game and if we use that as a foundation upon which to build a successful season then it will happen for us.”
On coming face-to-face with former-Blue Michael Raynes, who made the switch to the Alexandra Stadium during the summer, he said: “I enjoyed working with Michael. Some people can talk about aspects of the game Michael didn’t do, but I think he came here with a point to prove and I think he enjoyed his time here.
“As a professional and as a man I enjoyed working with him and I think he brought a lot to this club. He enjoyed the challenges we put on him and one of those was when we told him we wanted him to play more football than he’d probably ever played before in his career.
“Because of that we know that if Saturday is a game of football then he’s a player who can handle a ball. Likewise if it turns into a battle he’s physically equipped to deal with that as well. He’ll be a danger in our box so that’s something we’ll also have to have an eye on.”
And on what he wants from his team, he told us: “The biggest lift we need now is another win. When that comes you find that people start settling down a little bit and the environment you’re working in becomes one where it’s easier to express yourself.
“We all feel the pinch when victories are harder to come by because everybody naturally looks for weaknesses or immediate answers. That’s the same for all clubs at all levels. That’s when you have to maintain your belief in the way you want to play.
“The easy thing to do is to abandon that and start to bang the ball forward at every opportunity in the hope you can build from it. I’m not like that. I want to build something that will have longevity, sustainability and a pattern of play that will allow us to score goals and win games.
“Once you have that belief in what you’re doing you find that you’re going from strength-to-strength.”
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