Iwelumo will be a big hit, not a miss, says Notts boss Curle
IF YOU type Chris Iwelumo into Google one word pops up, almost mischievously. Miss.
For all he has achieved in his career, winning three promotions with three different clubs, the striker, 34, is famous, or rather infamous, for one moment – missing an open goal for Scotland. From just two yards out.
It was over four years ago that Iwelumo made his debut for his country as a sub against Norway at Hampden and screwed a shot wide from point-blank range.
Notts County boss Keith Curle knows all about it. And he knows Magpies fans will too. But he is certain his latest loan signing will be a net star rather than a YouTube joke on the terraces of Meadow Lane.
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It was the same when goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski joined Notts in the summer.
Some fans questioned the signing of the former Poland U20 international as the club's new No.1 on a three-year deal because of a high-profile mistake he made for Southampton in the Championship last season that is on YouTube, when he let a shot roll through his legs against Blackpool.
But he has since proved a great signing – and Curle says Iwelumo will do exactly the same.
"Everyone will know him (Iwelumo) for his fantastic miss for Scotland so everyone will Google him," he said.
"But if everyone Googled Bartosz at the beginning of the season they would have thought we'd made a massive mistake, but he's pulling out performances that have merited the faith I have got in him – and so will Chris."
Iwelumo made his debut for the Magpies in their 1-0 win against Swindon Town at Meadow Lane, less then 48 hours after joining the club until January from Championship club Watford.
He only trained with his new team-mates once before the game, but still went out and produced a good performance.
He set up Alan Judge to score the winning goal in the first half, using his aerial power to flick Alan Sheehan's long ball forward into the path of the Irish midfielder, who smashed a shot into the top-left corner of the net from 25 yards.
Iwelumo then almost marked his bow with a goal, but was denied by a great save from Robins goalkeeper Wes Foderingham early in the second half, after powering a close-range header at goal.
Curle has been chasing a target man all season, but missed out on Billy Paynter and Rob Hulse, so he is happy to have landed Iwelumo, who has won promotion with Brighton, Colchester and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Two of those successes were in League One, with Brighton and Colchester.
He scored four goals in 13 league games during a short loan at Brighton when they won promotion in League One and 2004 and then netted 19 times as Colchester finished runners-up in the division two years later.
He also scored 16 goals as Wolves rose into the Premier League in 2009.
"He has a great presence on the field and he knows his role as a centre forward," added Curle. "He's got good link-up play, can score a goal and will get on the end of crosses.
"Chris is not going to run the channels.
"He's not going to leave people for dead with blistering pace – in fact I think I could beat him in a race!
"But he can be a focal point, which is what our attacking play has been slightly missing in my opinion.
"Being a target man doesn't necessarily mean being big. It means being able to retain possession of the ball for us to build on, which will help us get into the final third on a more consistent basis.
"Some of our defending this season has been good, but sometimes it hasn't been helped by the retention of the ball in the final third.
"The ball has been coming back far too easily, at times, and that puts us under more pressure.
"Somebody like Chris, with his experience, can hold the ball up, bring other people into play in the mid-third and we can progress and go into the final third more often.
"He's somebody I've known about for a long time because he's had a decent career.
"He's proven what he can do and he will give everything he has got for this club.
"He will be given everything he needs to go out and do well."