Martin Allen among the first to wish Keith Curle well at Notts County
WHEN Keith Curle walked into his new office at Meadow Lane for the first time and opened the doors of a whiteboard that hangs on a wall there was a surprise message for him.
It read: "To Keith and all of your staff, I sincerely wish you all the best in the future, regards, Martin Allen."
Such is the tide of change in football at times that Allen yesterday returned to Meadow Lane, three days after being sacked by the club, to clear his belongings from the office not long before Curle was officially unveiled as his successor on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
"I think that says a lot about him," said Curle. "I know he meant it too. He understands the profession we are in and is big enough and man enough to wish me well."
Cheap Van Insurance For 17,18 & 19 Year Old Drivers - Call Insure365 01782 898188, Free Legal Protection Cover Included valued at £25.00!
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Monday, June 24 2013
Curle has also been wished well, inevitably, by a legendary former manager of the Magpies, Neil Warnock, who is the last manager to have led the club into the top-flight of English Football, in 1991.
Curle has worked alongside Warnock as a coach at Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers for the past four years before returning to management at Meadow Lane this week.
"When I told him I'd got the job he said 'congratulations. You've made the right decision. You've moved to a fantastic football club and you will do well'. It meant a lot to me," said Curle.
Curle faces quite a challenge even equalling Warnock's feat of successive play-off final victories at Wembley in 1990 and 1991, but he is ambitious.
His first target is winning promotion into the Championship – and he believes he could even lead Notts into the play-offs in League One in the final 16 games of the season.
They are currently in 11th place, only eight points adrift of the top-six, ahead of the first game of Curle's reign against Stevenage at Meadow Lane tonight.
"I am an ambitious person," said Curle. "As a player I started in the lower divisions and made my way through to play at the top level, in the Premier League.
"With my coaching, again, I worked my way to the Premier League.
"As a manager, second time around, I want to be in the Premier League, which means I have got to be successful."
Curle began his managerial career at Mansfield Town and also managed Chester City and Torquay United, but has not managed since 2007.
He is glad to be back on the frontline. "It's a great feeling," he said. "I'm enjoying it and I'm relishing the task."
Curle has appointed Colin Lee and Colin West as joint first-team coaches, adding: "I've been lucky to bring in quality coaches, good people with great professionalism, a wealth of knowledge and they have confidence, which I like."
Having most recently coached in the Premier League at QPR it will be quite a contrast managing in League One, but Curle wants Notts to play attractive, attacking football.
"Some teams in League One are very frenetic, get the ball forward, others like to pass and play. I like to pass and play," he said.
He is looking forward to his first game against Stevenage.
"I'm in a 'no lose' situation tonight," he said. "If the team go out and get beat it's the previous regime's fault because I've not had enough time to work with them.
"If we win the game I will get all of the credit. I have told the players all I want from them is to express themselves. I want them to play a brand of football that is entertaining, free-flowing and attack-minded."
Curle knows several of the Magpies' players already, having worked with Jeff Hughes, their leading scorer, at Crystal Palace and Damion Stewart and Gavin Mahon at QPR. He has also played against Lee Hughes.
"There are players with a lot of ability here," he said. "There is probably not enough dynamics in the team at present, but hopefully that will change.
"There are players that can handle a football and players who can score goals. We need to tighten up because they got beat 3-0 in their last game.
"Every player in the changing room is certainly going to be given the chance to impress me. After a few more days on the training ground, I will know exactly what is in the changing room. If there is a need I will be open to bringing players in and the chairman (Ray Trew) will back me.
"Everyone has been very friendly. I walked in and there were no growls. It was quite daunting walking into the changing room and I also know it is a sensitive time for players because there has been a change in management.
"Their mood is very good, very bright.
"I do genuinely believe we can be successful as a team."