Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the stunning 5-0 away victory at the Alexandra Stadium on Saturday afternoon which saw his side dominate and score goals in front of over 650 members of the travelling Blue Army.
“The manner of the win is very pleasing but, being honest, I’d have taken a scrappy one-goal victory because what we really needed was a win, however it came,” he said. “We needed to see unity and strength of character and I have to say that a good level of professionalism shone through from our players.
“We’re bound to talk about the five goals, and rightly so, but a pat on the back goes to the lads for their clean sheet as well. I thought we came here and nullified the opposition and we went on to cause them real problems. Crewe have some very technically gifted players and they did get at us early in the game. We had to match them stride-for-stride knowing that eventually we would get on top of them.”
“Hopefully we’ve helped to silence a few grumbles,” he added. “I thought our supporters were phenomenal and they got what they deserved by sticking with us. They’ve shown that they’re going to support us through bad times and good, so I have to give a massive thank you to them.
“I could hear them singing to me through the game and I have to say that I’m not in the profession purely for personal praise. However, it’s always nice to feel that people think you’re doing things right. They came here determined to get behind us and they provided a lift that our players needed.
“The supporters showed us that they’d kept the belief in their players. It’s only a couple of weeks ago that there was a song ringing out from the terraces that I didn’t like. Sometimes when people are asking questions like that the best answer to them is to do what we did today. It’s fair to say that this is the tonic we needed as a football club."
Speaking about the opening goal of the game, which went on to open the floodgates, he said: “When Danny [Grainger] scored it was as if a switch had flicked through the whole team. It’s sometimes hard to put your finger on why players lose confidence, but results and goals help you to get it back.
“People have been asking if I can still motivate the team and, no matter what I say, the only way for me to answer that is to get the players to do my talking out on the pitch. The players showed the strength of character to go out and perform even though things hadn’t been going their way.
“We’ve been knocked recently and we haven’t been getting the results we wanted. It doesn’t matter who you are, you do feel it when comments are coming in that are negative because of that. My job is to keep the belief within the group and make sure we prepare properly regardless of how people may or may not be feeling.”
With a change of shape to combat the threats that would be posed by Crewe, he explained: “We started the game with us getting used to our shape for the first ten minutes or so, but that came quickly and we started to dominate. The big question for us before kick off was where Cooper was going to play, and how they were going to utilise him.
“He can have a massive influence on any game but what they didn’t realise was that he was going to have Kelvin Etuhu shadowing his every move. I thought Kelvin did his job really well. He ended up with a little bit of cramp and that’s because he worked his socks off to close Cooper down. I thought he was exemplary because it wasn’t his natural position, within the battleground he enjoys, but he adapted and gave us a springboard to work off.”
“They had a few opportunities in the first five or ten minutes of the game but once we settled we got that little bit of confidence and belief,” he told us. “I didn’t think we had enough quality in the final third in the first half and that was the message at half time.
“Even though we were 1-0 up we wanted to keep the ball and move them around more. I thought the players took that on board and they started to enjoy themselves in the final third in the second half.
“We’ve been in games where we’ve tried to play football before we’ve earned the right but I thought some of our movement off the ball in the first ten minutes of the second half was exactly what we needed. We got their players facing their own goal and we stopped them from playing how they wanted to play.
“We’ve had a stuttering start to the season and as a football club we know we need wins to build confidence. A confident group of players is what everyone is looking for. We’re going to get runs where things aren’t going our way but the pleasing thing is that no one has got off the bus.”
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