United boss Keith Curle spoke more today about the 17 clean sheets (in all competitions) which have helped the club to a run of just one defeat in the last ten games and which has kept the team in the hunt for a play-off place as we head into the closing stages of the campaign.
“We like keeping clean sheets and being difficult to beat,” he said. “I thought Mark Ellis, Clint Hill and Tom Parkes did very well again on Saturday. James Brown and Danny Grainger did their bit on the flanks and between the five of them they kept things tight.
“It goes without saying that clean sheets give you a chance to progress and gain points. The football club now has a structure and foundation to build from, but there are still improvements to make.
“Defensively we’re playing well but, and as we said on Saturday, that was a day where we didn’t do enough in the attacking half to cause them enough problems. Overall it’s pleasing because we’ve put some good building blocks in place which will give us a better opportunity to be successful."
And the manager revealed that a switch to zonal marking, for the first time in his managerial career, has helped to make it clearer to the defensive unit where their responsibilities lie.
“Something I’ve done for the first in my career is adopted zonal marking here at Carlisle United,” he confirmed. “That’s now something we work on and a lot of it is about making sure where the responsibilities for each defender lies.
“The players have embraced it and they’re making sure they get blocks and first contact within their areas. The fans are very appreciative when they see effort, commitment, desire and application. They applaud that and they get behind us. Their attitude towards the players and staff has been first class.”
Speaking again about the need to be more ruthless in the opposition half, he commented: “I’ve told the players that I think we need to put more demands on our play and entries into the final third. There are areas we can improve on because I don’t think we controlled that element of our play at the weekend.
“I thought we got rid of the ball far too quickly and there were too many occasions where we picked the wrong options. The approach play, at times, was very good but we let ourselves down with what we did when we got close to their penalty area. That can come down to anxiety and trying to force things because they’re desperate to do well.”
With four games left to play, and the gap to the play-off places currently at four points, the job ahead is mapped out as United begin their preparation for the Morecambe away trip this weekend.
“What we need to do is clear, and sometimes clarity can be a motivation,” he told us. “We know we’ll have the backing of our fans at Morecambe and we’ll go out there to compete for them.
“We’ve had the defeat and draw we were allowed, and now we need to be picking up points. These lads want to end the season on a high and they’ll be doing everything they can to make sure that’s the case.
“The players have been faced by a number of distractions recently, but they haven’t once taken their eye off the job they have to do. That’s credit to them and it shows the strength of character they have in that changing room.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.