United boss Keith Curle spoke to us about tonight’s Emirates FA Cup third round replay with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
“As soon as I got in the car on Saturday night I had 45 minutes where I spoke to my coaching staff about the Crewe game,” he said. “From there it was immediately on to the travel and preparations for getting to Sheffield on Monday.
“The weekend and yesterday was spent looking at the information we got from our scouts who were at the Sheffield derby on Friday. It’s then a process of gathering information and looking at how we feel they’ll play so that we can give the players everything they need to make sure they can compete in what will be a tough game.”
“A big part of the quick turnaround from the weekend is the mental preparation of the group,” he continued. “It’s important for us to play the game and not the occasion. We’re going to a fantastic Championship stadium and they’ve got some very good Championship players who will make the right decisions more often than League Two players.
“There have been plenty of cup upsets from teams who are lower than ourselves against teams who are higher placed than Sheffield Wednesday. We’ll go there with no fear factor and with a good understanding of how we can cause them problems. Then it will be a case of making sure we make those right decisions at the right times.”
“Tonight gives us an opportunity to progress in the competition and we all know that the further we can get the higher the financial rewards are,” he commented. “It will be two competitive teams playing in a cup tie where anything can happen.
“That’s the beauty of a cup tie because sometimes it isn’t about the possession, it’s about taking opportunities when they come. We have players who can perform well, and we have players who can score goals. On Tuesday we need to be at 100%, not just the starting 11 but the players on the bench, because everybody needs to be totally focused to give us the best opportunity.”
On how we can prepare best for an away game against a team from the second tier, he said: “I had their game from Friday night recorded and we have a lot of information and footage of them.
“We know our own strengths and we know where we feel we can implement them to test Sheffield Wednesday. We can’t go there and play an open, expansive game of football and match them man for man.
“We need to go there with a game plan and I need to make sure everybody is able to understand it and play their part. It’s their new manager’s first home game and he’ll want to start his tenure at Hillsborough with a win.
“He’s bound to know about the FA Cup and the tradition it has, and the importance fans put on it. The players within their camp will still be trying to impress him as well. One thing they won’t want is to be beaten by Carlisle United, but that’s exactly what we’re going there to try to achieve.”
And, being a former-Blade, we wondered if he was looking forward to the reception the blue half of the city will give him as he takes his place in the technical area.
“I don’t think it will take a lot for the Wednesday fans to turn on me, but my focus will be on getting the best out of my players to give them the best opportunity to get something out of the game,” he insisted. “It’s part and parcel of the game because they love their football over there. They’ll be desperate for their team to do well and I’m sure they’ll see me as fair game.
“I wouldn’t put a lot of money on us going there and getting rolled over because that won’t happen. We’ll all have our battles to win, but we’ve had three clean sheets out of the last four games because of our determination to make the second half of the season as positive and successful as possible.
“We’ll certainly do what we can to keep the positivity going with a competitive performance at the very least.”
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