Keith Curle feels he has had no choice but to play ‘ugly’ football at the Cobblers because he ‘doesn’t trust the players’ to carry out ‘the simple basics’ following their second defeat in a row on Saturday.
Curle and his players won plenty of praise for their recent eight-game unbeaten run but those results were largely achieved on the back of dogged, gritty performances rather than free-flowing attacking football.
People have been saying we’ve played ugly but we’ve had to play ugly because I don’t trust the players to go and get on the ball and pass and move,
Tight games against Stevenage and Newport County were won by late goals while Town also battled past Crewe, Tranmere and Exeter, in addition to draws against Lincoln, Crawley and Grimsby before recent defeats to Cheltenham and Port Vale.
Now results have taken a turn for the worse again, the style of football has been questioned by some supporters, understandably, but it seems Curle feels his hands are tied as the current players are either not good enough or not willing to respect the ‘fundamentals’ of the game.
“People have been saying we’ve played ugly but we’ve had to play ugly because I don’t trust the players to go and get on the ball and pass and move,” he said.
“So we’ve had to go direct, get after teams and flood areas. What you then find is that, when a team doesn’t do that, we come unstuck because we’re not as good at ball manipulation and getting it down and passing it.
“It’s a very simple game but unfortunately we have a changing room there that do not focus on the simple things and before we go onto the next level, we have to make sure the starting point is right.
“To be honest, we’ve been working on things in training and we’re not good at it. We’re not good enough at getting the ball down and passing and moving, the simple basics.”
Curle’s comments are unlikely to go down well with his players but that doesn’t faze him. He added: “I don’t need to fall out with players but I’ll show them where the bus stop is.
“We’ll be back in at 9am and we will look at the videos and we’ll do the fundamentals of football - pass, move, pass, move, appreciation. If you ignore those things, you cannot turn the page.
“If you get a team that don’t want to get on the ball and don’t want to receive the ball and help the person on it, you become very static and that’s what we became on Saturday.”