Notts County can do a QPR, says boss Keith Curle
NOTTS County can do a QPR, says boss Keith Curle.
Curle was No.2 to ex-Magpies' boss Neil Warnock when Queens Park Rangers topped the Championship for ages two seasons ago and won promotion into the Premier League.
He has now led Notts to the top of League One in the first five games of this season – and is confident they can stay there.
After winning four times already, against Crewe, Hartlepool United, Bury and Shrewsbury Town, Curle says his players are oozing confidence ahead of facing Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park today.
The Magpies could equal a 41-year-old club record of ten away league games unbeaten if they avoid defeat against the Latics – and Curle insists they are ready to rewrite the history books.
"Our preparation has gone well and as you can imagine the lads are buzzing," he said.
"There is a buoyancy around the place, which is to be expected.
"Some people are sometimes a little bit fearful of being successful, but I enjoy it, I thrive on it.
"I was lucky enough to be at QPR when we were top from the first game of the season to the last, barring two weekends.
"There is an added pressure to being top because you're there to be shot at, which we had all season at QPR.
"But we never changed our planning, preparation and mentality going into every game, which is what we're trying to achieve here now.
"Those things have not changed this week because we're top – our preparation and planning has been exactly the same and we will go out with the same game plan, try to stop Oldham playing, nullify their strengths and try to exploit their weaknesses.
"The players are so focused on the next game, the next challenge, all of the time."
The Magpies are unbeaten in nine away league games under Curle, going all the way back to February.
The impressive run began in the first away game of his reign at Rochdale and Notts memorably thrashed Charlton Athletic 4-2 at The Valley in March – and the Addicks were top of League One and went on to win the title.
The Magpies also beat Leyton Orient 3-0 and scored two late goals to beat Wycombe Wanderers 4-3 away last season and have started this season by beating Crewe and Bury on the road.
The ten-game unbeaten record was set by Jimmy Sirrel's famous Division Four title-winning team of 1971, which included the likes of Don Masson and the club's all-time leading scorer Les Bradd.
Curle would love to equal it against Oldham and then top it at MK Dons on Tuesday night.
"It would be a great achievement for the players," he said.
"Hopefully we will go down in history – but the one stat that will really count is where we are at the end of the season."
While Notts are setting the pace at the top, one point clear of their nearest rivals Tranmere Rovers and Stevenage, Oldham have made an inconsistent start to the campaign.
They are 19th in the table with just four points from four games – and have not won on home soil.
Despite the contrast in form, Curle is not going to take them lightly and is expecting a battle against Paul Dickov's men.
"It's going to be very tough," he said.
"They have made an indifferent start, but I'm very mindful of the fact they will mirror their manager, so they will be tenacious, aggressive and willing to work hard.
"Paul was all of those things as a player.
"We will have to match them.
"I have the feeling it won't be the prettiest game, but it will be high energy and committed."
Curle has a big decision to make in attack because Lee Hughes came off the subs' bench and scored a late winner as the Magpies beat Shrewsbury 3-2 at Meadow Lane last Saturday.
It was his second goal in two games so he will be pushing for a start against the club he left to join Notts three years ago.
But Curle also has French striker Yoann Arquin and Enoch Showunmi at his disposal, so Hughes might have to settle for a place on the bench once again.
Whoever leads their attack, Curle believes the Magpies can claim a fifth league win.
"We're trying to create a winning mentality," he said.
"It's not being big-headed or over confident, but we want the players to believe they can win every game they compete in. It will be no different today."