Keeping every player happy is one of the trickier aspects of football management but, for Cobblers boss Keith Curle, honesty is most definitely the best policy.
Curle has had to leave out some high profile names in accommodating others over the past few weeks, with strikers Junior Morias and Andy Williams among those to have barely featured during Town’s five games in February, combining for only one start between them.
The latter has not been shy in expressing disappointment at his lack of game-time this season and he once again voiced his ‘frustration’ after coming off the bench to score the winner at Stevenage on Saturday.
“He’s disappointed and angry and it’s one of those that there’s no better way to shove it down my throat than by putting the ball into the net,” said Curle.
“That’s the type of mentality I want. I want that hunger, I want that desire, I want that disappointment from players and I want them to go and take their chances when they get them. Shove it down my throat and I’ll digest it.”
When questioned how he approaches managing those players unhappy with their game-time, Curle explained: “I’m a talker. I’ve got an open door policy and I will get players that have different emotions – anger, frustration, disappointment – and I manage those.
There’s no better way to shove it down my throat by putting the ball into the net. That’s the type of mentality I want. I want that hunger, I want that desire, I want that disappointment from players and I want them to go and take their chances when they get them.
“The best way to manage is to not shy away from it. I don’t shy away from difficult questions as in ‘why am I not playing, what have I done wrong, what do I need to work on’ and so on.
“It’s an open door whereby players know that I don’t shy away from the difficult questions that I’m going to get asked.
“All I can be is honest and tell players what they need to be doing. I’ll give them the opportunity and when you play, show me what you’ve got.”
Curle was delighted to see Williams go out and prove him wrong on Saturday when, in stoppage-time, the striker raced clear of Stevenage’s defence before producing a lovely deft finish to grab all three points for the Cobblers.
“He outpaced their midfield player and a defender and the finish was sublime,” added the Town boss. “It was quality finish and showed a good understanding of where people were around him.
“It was good body strength to hold people off and he was relaxed and composed enough to put the ball where he wanted. It was a very good finish.”