Curle 'takes responsibility' for team selection but says players 'let themselves down' after FA Cup exit

Keith Curle.Keith Curle.
Keith Curle.
Town chief made seven changes from last league game

Keith Curle took 'some responsibility' for his team selection against Oxford City on Monday night, but he also accused his players of 'letting themselves down' after being humbled by their non-league, part-time opponents.

Curle rang the changes and fielded an inexperienced, youthful side at Marsh Lane, with academy youngsters Caleb Chukwuemeka and Morgan Roberts both involved, plus four other players under the age of 23.

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But Curle's decisions backfired horrifically as his side threw in an inexplicably poor performance on live television and were deservedly sent crashing out of the FA Cup at the first time of asking.

Whilst Curle did accept it was a gamble to make wholesale changes, his team selection still didn't legislate for such an out-of-sorts performance.

"I take some responsibility because it was my team selection," he said. "Maybe it was too many changes and I'm going to try and protect the players and find as many excuses as I can to defend them publicly.

"But, in the changing room, you can't hide. There is no hiding place. We've got the video of the game and we will be watching it again because the players have let themselves down.

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"No matter what happens, you're a professional footballer. You might be playing in a team sport but you're self-employed and when you are given an opportunity and a platform to perform, you've got to take it. On Monday, too many players did not take that opportunity."

Curle will now drag his players in first thing on Tuesday morning and make them sit through what will be a painful dissection of their error-strewn performance at Marsh Lane.

"We will be in at 9am on Tuesday morning and we will watch the game back because pictures tell the story and they don't lie," he added. "We were not good enough, individually and collectively, nowhere near good enough.

"Yes, we had some big players and big some characters not playing and not selected but that allowed a platform for other players who are paid professional footballers to go out and perform and they came up short."

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Curle took a while to emerge for his post-match press duties on Monday night after a lengthy dressing down in the changing room.

"I made the players aware of my feelings in the changing room," he continued. "But I've changed a bit over the years. A few years ago I would still have been in there an hour after full-time but I've learned that it's probably best to have a night's sleep.

"But the players will be in at half past eight and we'll go through the video at 9am and it's a case of being honest and accepting it was not good enough."