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MANAGER: We're building a strong squad mentality

Keith Curle with his reaction to the away win at Barnet

21 February 2018

Manager Keith Curle gave us his reaction to the 3-1 away win at Barnet shortly after full time on Tuesday night.

“It took us a while to get going but the important thing that came out of it for me, obviously apart from the result, is the squad mentality,” he said. “There are going to be variations and changes within the starting line-up but the strong mentality we need within the group is that we’re part of a group that’s formulating a team ethic.

“We had some good performances from the bench which gave us energy and a turning point within the game. The willingness to go out there and be part of it was evident from everybody.

“We went for a triple substitution just after the hour mark because we needed a spark and an extra bit of fluidity in our attacking play. Making three changes like that isn’t something I’ve made a habit of, but it was needed on this occasion.

“We knew the personnel we brought on were going to cause different kinds of problems if they did things properly. The pleasing thing is they went out there and did everything we asked them to do.”

“I was disappointed with our first half because I thought we came up short,” he commented. “We wanted to play in front of Barnet and not on their shoulders or behind them. We had opportunities to do that, but we turned them down with a lack of quality or a wrong decision.

“We have football players who want to play in between lines but, at this stage of the season, sometimes you’ve got to play tighter and get closer to the opposition.”

“You have to say that Barnet did very well in the first half,” he added. “We made it easy for them because we gave them something to close down, simply because we stood still. Our ball retention wasn’t good enough and we were wasteful when we did get the chance to exploit dangerous areas.

“When the ball was going up to the strikers it wasn’t sticking, and we didn’t have that level of aggression we needed from our forward players. As we said at the weekend, in certain situations it’s doing the horrible side of the game that gets you results.”

Having battled through their slow start, the Blues went on to bag three second half goals to turn the game on its head following an early second half strike from the hosts.

“I’m please with how we reacted to the penalty miss and, in the end, we could have scored more goals ourselves,” he commented. “I thought Clint Hill and Mark Ellis gave us the platform to work from having gone up against a very good lad [John Akinde].

“Being critical, I thought our full backs didn’t defend their inside shoulder well enough, but that’s stuff for us to look at. If you come away from home and beat anybody 3-1 it’s a good performance.

“There’s a story within the game, with the penalty miss from Akinde, and that gave us the opportunity to push on. If that penalty had gone in, we know we’d have been looking at potentially a completely different evening.

“As it was we reacted and the first opportunity we got after that was a good finish from Ashley Nadesan. You could see the lift that gave us and from there we had the feeling that there was only going to be one team to go on and win the game.”

On the manner in which the penalty was conceded, he said: “The penalty was poor defending. To allow somebody to get that side of you is just bad defending, it’s as simple as that.

“I based my career on not allowing people to get that side of me so it’s not something I encourage.”

Speaking more about the emergence of Fleetwood loanee Ashley Nadesan, who grabbed two of the goals and the headlines on the night, he said: “He’s been excellent. He did very well last week and that’s because the kid has quality. I said at the weekend that he’s taken a little bit of time to integrate and he has a personality where you need to get to know him to see the best of him.

“He’s a willing worker and a willing runner and he can finish. He has an air of composure about his play in the final third and he’s quicker than you think. The other thing I like about him is his appreciation of the players around him.

“His first goal showed a bit of bravery as well because a lot of people would have seen the keeper coming and taken their eye off the ball. He didn’t do that, he sent the ball at the target and I’m pleased for the lad.”

“With Richie Bennett, it was a centre forward’s goal,” he continued. “He was involved in the play, he got the ball into a wide area, and then he used a double movement to get into the box. There was great contact on the ball and the finish was excellent.

“We’ve been having a lot of conversations with Richie because he’s absolutely disappointed that I’ve gone out and brought another centre forward in. Being disappointed and having a sad face doesn’t alter my mind. It’s when he gives me performances like that that he gives me great competition and another striking option.

“It’s a small squad, but everybody wants to be involved and it’s up to all of them to make sure they come to the party.”

With 207 United fans making up the overall attendance figure of 1,151 the manager was quick to praise the noise they made as the game flipped itself on its head.

“The easy thing to do is to sit and moan if things aren’t going our way,” he said. “The lesson for our fans is to get behind the team because, when you do, things can happen if you back us.

“As soon as we gave them something to shout about you could only hear the Carlisle fans in the stadium. We want that to spread because it gives us an opportunity to perform. I don’t mind the few people who choose to shout ‘Curle out’ because I won’t hide away from them. I’ll do my job to the best of my ability and I will get this team firing.

“The effort our fans made to come and support us was rewarded with a second half performance they can be proud of. Hopefully they enjoyed it as well. It’s fantastic that they’ll be there again on Saturday and the support they give us is valued, because it’s exceptional.”

On the players who weren’t on the teamsheet tonight, he explained: “Kelvin [Etuhu] will be out for eight weeks now with a hamstring injury, so we are short in numbers, but we can still score goals and be competitive.

“Jamal [Campbell-Ryce] didn’t play because it was a gentleman’s agreement between the clubs, due to the nature of the deal being struck between us and Barnet, that we wouldn’t include him on the team sheet.

“Mike Jones picked up a slight knock and is just coming back from injury and illness, so we didn’t want to get him involved with the travel side of it. The good thing was that we had Danny Grainger and Luke Joyce back and involved with the group, which gives us more good options to think about.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.    

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