United’s draw at Exeter on Saturday afternoon took them to within two points of the play-off places, as they extended their current unbeaten run to five games, which included a run of four victories prior to the trip to St James Park.
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about the club’s play-off aspirations as he prepares for a double header of home games against Crawley [Saturday 17 March] and Cambridge [Saturday 24 March].
“There’s a collective belief that we can do this,” he said. “Teams above us will be taking notice and they’ll be looking over their shoulders.
“If any of the teams in that pack lose their games in hand they know we’re waiting and we’re coming after them.”
“We’re a team that’s looking up, which is very pleasing at this stage of the season,” he added. “Some of the points we’ve picked up have been from very long trips, but we don’t ever use it as an excuse. We deal with it and we make sure we’re in the right frame of mind.
“Seven points from three very difficult away games is very pleasing. We’ve got ourselves set up nicely for two fantastic home games in front of our home fans, and that’s something we’re looking forward to.”
“If you have a look at the last five weeks you come away feeling pleased with a lot of things,” he commented. “In this game we’ve faced a team who have been up there all season and we’ve had good periods of domination. That tells us we’re progressing.
“We still have the forward momentum after the result we got at the weekend. We had a good test in this game and we’ve come out of it with credit. We’ve shown that we’re a force to be reckoned with away from home, as well as at home.
“The challenge we will set to the players is to get six points from the next two home games. We have to play with level heads, we know that, and we will have to make sure we all do our jobs in the same way we have been through this very good run of form.”
On the importance of having a competitive edge in the dressing room, he said: “There are no guaranteed starting positions for anybody within the squad, and that’s because everybody can play their part at any given time.
“I don’t owe anybody any favours inside this football club. I think that’s important, and all of my players fully understand that. Not knowing what the team will be from game-to-game keeps everybody on their toes, and there’s been a good response to that from everybody.
“If we look at Saturday, I named the team at quarter to two. It’s part of the preparation process we’re using at the moment, because if you don’t name the team until the latest possible opportunity, it keeps everybody on their toes.
“It doesn’t allow any negativity to build up, and with the quality we had in there they all knew that any one of them could have been in the starting line-up. The other pleasing thing is that those who aren’t in the starting eleven haven’t become despondent.
“They’re pushing those who do get selected on because ultimately we all want the same end result.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Curle on iFollow United now.