The Head Coach is encouraged with his side’s reaction to his first two weeks in charge despite still searching for his first three points.
Approaching a handful of games under his belt in quick succession, registering three draws and one defeat, keeping two clean sheets. Curle now knows the defensive solidity needs to be backed up with having that cutting edge in the final third again to make it count.
“We’re trying to be progressive in everything that we do,” explained the Head Coach.
“In a short time frame of coming in, trying to evaluate the squad individually and collectively, then with the evaluation trying to fit the players into a new team structure, we've seen signs of what we're trying to produce with the players and put square pegs in square holes.
“Again, I think there's been a good positive reaction on the whole. The defensive displays have been pleasing and I get the feeling there's more to come. With the attacking threat our next key aim, being able to be comfortable in possession, there's a good understanding of where we want to try and go and it's just a case of them being a little bit more relaxed in the opposition's half but also then being ruthless as well.”
With games still coming thick and fast, Curle has had to use his management experience to ensure training sessions are maximised with one eye on the next opponent. That being Exeter tomorrow evening, a Grecians setup he knows well after his Wembley success last summer.
“We’re playing against a team that has been consistently, consistent over the years. They’ve always been in the top-half, in and around the playoffs and probably over the last three or four years, they’ve been a constant threat and a difficult side to beat.”
He added: “They've kept recruiting very well and again, it’s no surprise to me that they're a team that's operating within the top eight or nine in this division. They've got flexibility in their structure whereby now they've been playing with a back four, but I know that they can play, and they have switched to a back three as well so they've got that in their armoury that familiarity of changing roles.”
“I’ve got a lot of time for their manager and a lot of respect. I spoke to him after the playoff final and I was impressed with how they got themselves to the final. Obviously the manager was ultimately disappointed with their performance on the day but that can happen either way. So, again, we're respectful but not fearful.”
On coming up against a familiar opponent in Exeter, Curle said; “They’re showing consistency bears fruit in terms of challenging at the top because I think they've got a structure in place that they believe in and produce players of their own. All they need is a promotion now to back it up so we know it’s going to be a similar test to Cambridge in what I’ve faced as Oldham’s Head Coach so far, a side looking to get a positive result and take the game to us.”
Looking at his own building blocks at Boundary Park, Curle’s message to the players is clear.
“Performances dictate selection,” he commented.
“And I’ve been relatively happy with some performances anyway, that’s why changes haven’t been wholesale. We now need to turn good solid performances into very good performances.”
“With training this afternoon the players have also got familiar with what’s required in certain positions in this new structure. Being able to adapt with it and have that flexibility that we can change formation if need be, as well.”
He continued: “It's just painting pictures of it. We've got ourselves into some very good positions and then that final ball sometimes lets us down. We need to make better movement up front, we need to have more movement up front and we need to get players in more advanced positions.
“As a coach walking into a new environment you've got to earn the respect of the players, and have their attention on training pitch and I've got to say, the players have been very attentive.
“They've taken on board some of the ideas and they're asking questions about it and I think the biggest thing is they're going out and they're enjoying their football, they're playing with that licence that they can express themselves within a team structure.
“Ultimately, I'm no different to every single supporter though that I want to win a game of football, because that's the icing on the cake. You want to win games and that's our next step now, to consistently win games starting tomorrow.”