Horrified Curle feels he was 'let down' by his players after they 'melted' in defeat to Oxford

Town boss was shocked by the manner of his side's collapse at the Kassam Stadium

By James Heneghan
Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 9:44 am
Keith Curle.
Keith Curle.

Even Oxford United manager Karl Robinson was stunned by the length of time that Keith Curle kept his players locked in the changing room after Tuesday's shocking 4-0 defeat at the Kassam Stadium.

Robinson had been waiting to grab a chat with Curle but called it a night just before 11pm, remarking that he had never previously known players and coaches to still be dissecting a game in the changing room nearly 90 minutes after full-time.

When Curle eventually emerged, he was still seething and if his players thought they would be let off the hook, they had another thing coming. Town were supposedly up against another relegation-battling side on Tuesday but the two teams looked worlds apart as Matty Taylor scored twice in a rampant home victory.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Oxford had scored just three goals in their previous five league fixtures and yet managed four in 43 minutes against the Cobblers.

Asked if he felt let down by his players, Curle replied: "I don't 'feel' that players let me down, I know they did. That's the harsh reality and something which the players have got to be aware of because I don't accept that. There's a way to lose and that's not me or my team."

Curle was visibly horrified and shocked by his side's performance at the Kassam, particularly the way in which they 'melted' after going a goal behind shortly after half-time.

"It's a lack of men and a lack of leaders," he added. "There's a moral fibre that you need as an individual and a professional. OK, so we go a goal down, but that doesn't mean it's over.

"It's like a boxer. If you get hit once, are you going to get up? Are you going to get off the canvas? If you've been hit once and it hurt, get up and go again. That's what champions do.

"Champion boxers get knocked down. They won't go through their whole careers without taking one or two on the chin, but real champions get up again."

It's only two weeks since Curle was patting his players on the back for a job well done after their 1-0 win over Fleetwood Town, a victory that moved them up to 14th place at the time.

"That's the beauty of football," Curle continued. "You can have teams playing well and then you get disruptions and you take one link out and it has a knock-on effect.

"We were competitive on Tuesday until the first goal went in but that's when we needed men. One goal is not enough to beat you.

"We saw it last season. Two goals wasn't enough to beat us and we weren't down and out and that's the attitude we had in the group. We now need that attitude back."