Curle urges ‘nervous’ players to come out of their ‘safety zones’

Keith Curle. Picture: Pete Norton
Keith Curle. Picture: Pete Norton

Cobblers boss Keith Curle will look to coax his players out of their ‘safety zones’ in future matches after saying that ‘nerves’ played a part in their opening-day defeat to Walsall.

With nine of their 12 summer signings on display, Town sometimes appeared a little overeager in their play against the Saddlers, although they still created enough chances to at least take a point.

We finished the game at the right tempo but the nervousness of the first game in front of a big crowd full of expectancy does play a part with the players.

Sam Hoksins and Andy Williams went as close as anyone, both thwarted by Liam Roberts’ sharp reactions, but in the end it was James Clarke’s 14th-minute header that separated the two teams.

Whilst keen to point out the positives afterwards, Curle also acknowledged there were times when his new-look team looked ragged and short of fluency.

“There are definitely positives,” he said. “Because there are so many new players I felt we were a little bit slow and a little bit laboured in the first-half.

“But you put that down to some nerves and players wanting to impress, wanting do the right things and staying in the safety zone of not making mistakes.

“Gradually we will get players out of that safety zones. I thought our tempo was better in the last 20 minutes when we played on the front foot, got the ball forward, landed on second balls and put balls into the box.

“We finished the game at the right tempo but the nervousness of the first game in front of a big crowd full of expectancy does play a part with the players.”

Converting chances will become a must for the Cobblers if they are to compete at the right end of the table, and Curle wants to see more players take risks and put themselves in the right place to score.

“If the ball goes into wide areas and it’s coming in, I think we could have got more players into the box and those half chances we had it’s about the simple things,” he added.

“The ball comes out to the edge of the box - you’ve got to hit the target. If the ball’s coming out, put it into good areas, get it out wide and back into the box.”