CURLE ARTICLE IN THE SUN
Contract depends on win
By JANINE SELF
KEITH CURLE candidly admits that “football manager” does not quite fit his job description.
Mansfield's 40-year-old boss has knocked down toilets, watered the training pitch and forked out for pre-match meals.
But the only thing Stags' supporters will be interested in is whether their team are promoted to the Second Division this season.
And former England, Manchester City and Wimbledon defender Curle hopes to deliver on that front too.
He takes his side to Northampton for the first leg of the play-off semi-final tomorrow on the back of a run of only two wins in their last six league games.
That includes a home defeat by the Cobblers on the final day but if the Nottinghamshire outfit can get by Northampton — and triumph in the final in Cardiff — it will be an instant return on his first full season in management.
Heck, it might even earn Curle the security of a contract!
Curle admitted: “I haven't got one. When I arrived 18 months ago I had a verbal agreement with the chairman.
“We were nine points adrift at the bottom and just failed to stay up.
“Last summer he told me the minimum requirement was the play-offs. I don't need a contract to make me a better manager.”
In other words, Curle operates without a safety net. The danger for Mansfield is someone else might spot a blossoming talent.
Especially if would-be suitors find out just what else Curle is capable of.
SUITS YOU ... no deal but Curle still delivered
He said: “Last summer I was standing on the training pitch with a big fireman's hose in my hand and I never thought I would be doing that!
“We had two little sprinklers which just couldn't do the job so I managed to get hold of one of those hydrants.
“I've also knocked down toilets. For some reason there were two in the middle of our changing room and the waste pipe went up a hill. To put it politely, there was a stink.
“At clubs this size, everyone does more than one job. At the start of the season the players were given 30 pairs of socks — and two weeks later there were only 11 pairs left.
“I've had to raise funds by fining players to buy socks. I've also paid for pre-match meals because the club didn't feel it was necessary for the players.
“But I didn't want them stopping at a services and buying a burger. I want them ready and focused.”
Curle's 25 professionals will give him another headache in a couple of weeks — all but four are out of contract.
The list includes top scorer Liam Lawrence, 22, who cracked in 22 goals as the Stags ended fifth in the table.
Mind you, he did not exactly get his season off to a flyer after being substituted at half-time on the opening day.
Curle recalled: “The following week I fined him for being out on the town — and then dropped him for a game.
“The game after, he came back in, scored and showed a T-shirt which had 'sorry' printed on it.
“He's never looked back since and has had a very successful season.”
Curle will be hoping it is not over just yet.
Latest | May 2004