22 February ~ Keith Curle knows how unpopular he is as Notts County's new boss. In his first press conference on Monday – available only on the official club website's subscription-only Magpie Player – he said: "We need everyone on board." Sadly for him, that won't wash. Martin Allen's shock sacking following Notts 3-0 drubbing at Hartlepool means that chairman Ray Trew is now on his eighth manager since taking control of the club following the Munto Finance fiasco two years ago.
This new manager, fresh for the gallows with his backroom staff, has a desperately poor record. Curle has not been in charge of a club for five years, having been given the chop at Torquay after failing to save them from relegation to the Conference. Before that, he lost 11 of his last 12 games at Chester City and was removed after nine months in charge. During his time at near-neighbours Mansfield Town, Curle was sacked controversially over allegations he bullied a youth-team player.
Compare that the Allen, arguably the club's most popular manager in more than a decade. On his appointment last year, I questioned whether he was the right man for the job, but I'm more than happy to say I was wrong.
In August we were one of Wes Morgan's swinging boots away from dumping our beloved neighbours Forest out of the League Cup in the best match between the two teams in living memory. "Mad Dog" led us onto the pitch at the opening of Juventus' new 40,000 stadium, where the team earned a credible 1-1 draw.
His interviews were full of honesty and self-depreciation. In short, he was one of us, kicking every ball, heading away every clearance and downing a consolation pint as we bemoaned missed opportunities after the match. I do not think even the most optimistic Notts County fan can see that happening with Curle.
The relationship between Trew, his sidekick Jim Rodwell – who delivered the news to Allen before he boarded the team coach home from Victoria Park – and the fans is now in tatters. Trew started out as a man whose wife used to sit with the noisiest section of the crowd at home and away games with a black and white scarf around her neck, singing our famous “Wheelbarrow Song.”
He would answer his critics and explain his decisions on internet forums, earning the initial nod of approval from fans. That communication has dried up. Now we are left to wonder what plans he has for a club that celebrated its 150th anniversary by getting shot of an overachieving manager and replacing him with someone who has done nothing at the three clubs he has managed.
I do not blame Curle for taking the job and his two and a half year contract. In the current economic situation, who wouldn't like to be guaranteed pay for 30 months regardless of how well they perform. Juding by the ill feeling towards the appointment and pessimism among the fans, we are glad he needs no more than 15 points in 16 games to save us from relegation to League Two. Dave Evans