Curbishley frustrated but focused

Alan Curbishley was understandably frustrated after his side were held to a 1-1 home draw by Reading even though the club have jumped two places to ninth after the Boxing Day fixtures.

The visitors were left with ten men when Brynjar Gunnarsson was sent off just before the half-hour mark following a challenge on Hayden Mullins. The referee Peter Walton had no hesitation in producing the red card, and Curbishley said the fact both the midfielder's feet left the ground meant it was a "no brainer" for the official.

He added: "At the start of the season, we were told in no uncertain terms if both feet leave the ground you are off. No matter if you get the ball or not." That decision left the impetus with the home side and it looked like all three points would be secured when Nolberto Solano burst through to score just before half-time. However, Reading were able to battle back and earn a point through Dave Kitson on the hour, much to the manager's dismay.

"We should have taken more advantage," he said. "We are massively disappointed about the points - we feel we have definitely dropped two. Although it wasn't spectacular - we had enough chances to have won the game in the second half. We had some good positions to have got the second goal. Reading, to be fair, kept going and it probably looked that if they were going to score it was going to be from a set-play."

Curbishley particularly felt for the supporters, who had high hopes at the Boleyn Ground following the tremendous 2-1 win at Middlesbrough last Saturday. "We seem to set our fans up by winning away from home and coming back here and not doing it. It is not for the want of trying, that's for sure. You expect to win your home games."

Recalling other home draws against Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers, Curbishley added: "They are games that you have got to get the three points and turn the stadium into a place where no one wants to come. We are doing it the wrong way round at the moment. We know that, we understand that.

"The fans are as frustrated as me - we are all frustrated - but the players are giving their all. They have given me the lot, we have got 26 points and I will take that." As well as the point moving the team back into ninth spot, ahead of Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United, there are more positives in terms of injury news.

"They are slowly coming back, [Julien] Faubert's started training which is a big boost. [Lee] Bowyer and [Matthew] Etherington were running the other day, we are hoping that one or two will join this week and we have obviously got [unused substitute Anton] Ferdinand back now. They are slowly coming back, we have just got to get on with it."

The team will certainly have to do that when Manchester United arrive on Saturday. "It is the big game. Everyone looks forward to it and I am hoping that we can lift the crowd or the crowd can lift us and we turn it into a bit of a game. I can't tell you who will be in the team, I am hoping that one or two might be back.

"Carlton Cole has been ill all week, although he was suspended, he has been ill and it looked like it. We will see what we have got but I can't ask any more. They have given everything they have got. Perhaps at times it isn't good enough - drawing games here that perhaps we should win - but overall I am delighted with them. We need to win some games. That is what we are desperately trying to do and if it starts on Saturday, then why not. We did it last year."

  • Log on or register with WHUTV now to hear from Alan Curbishley and also see an exclusive interview with George McCartney