No room to blame bad luck as Curle demands more of the same from Cobblers

A happy Keith Curle shakes hands with Jack Bridge. Picture: Kirsty Edmonds
A happy Keith Curle shakes hands with Jack Bridge. Picture: Kirsty Edmonds

For those Cobblers supporters tired of hearing managers constantly lament bad luck and use it as an excuse for their team’s poor results over recent seasons, the approach of new boss Keith Curle will come as a welcome and refreshing change.

Fortunately, Curle has had little reason to criticise or bemoan during his short reign in charge of Northampton so far after starting with two draws and two wins but there will no doubt come a time when fortunes change and he’ll have to explain a negative result or a bad performance.

I don’t put pressure on centre-forwards and strikers but, likewise, I don’t say unlucky very often. If the centre-forward misses an opportunity, it’s a case of needing to do better next time. Asking a player to improve is not an insult.

When that time comes though, it appears blaming misfortune will be at the bottom of the excuses list. If a defender makes a mistake, he will be told to improve. If a striker misses a chance, he’ll be told to do better when the next one arrives.

“I don’t put pressure on centre-forwards and strikers but, likewise, I don’t say unlucky very often,” said Curle. “If the centre-forward misses an opportunity, it’s a case of needing to do better next time.

“That’s not a criticism but I don’t like the word unlucky because you can’t have lucky teams that gets relegated. They then get relegated again and they blame referees, they blame decisions and they blame everything apart from themselves.

“Have they done better? Have they created the right environment? Asking a player to improve is not an insult.”

Curle, at the time, was speaking in the aftermath of Saturday’s last-gasp victory over Forest Green Rovers and he was specifically referring to Andy Williams who finally scored his long-awaited first goal for the club.

“For himself it will be a weight off his shoulders but I know that Andy Williams will score goals for us,” added Curle. “He’s a brave lad and he’s prepared to get in and around the box and make himself available.

“With his link-up play outside the box and the first contact he wins, he will earn the type of opportunities that he got on Saturday.

“It was great work for Kevin (van Veen) and you’ve got to be brave enough to want to be in there and that’s important.”

Curle has got the reaction he would have wanted when appointed two weeks ago but now comes the hard bit: making sure his players maintain or even improve over the coming games and weeks.

While there were plenty of positives on Saturday, the first-half threw up several negatives, particularly the ease with each Reuben Reid escaped Town’s defence and rounded David Cornell to put Rovers ahead.

Curle continued: “I think there are a lot of players that are performing at a very good level and my job is to keep those demands on the players and simplify the information but also to get them to enjoy doing the simple things.

“There are things that we still need to work on with the positions and understanding of roles and responsibilities within the back three and the back five when certain situations can be nullified.

“I’ve also spoken to Dai (Cornell). He’s got the advantage of using his hands in the 18-yard box and sometimes you have to play the game to your advantage.”