CURLE APPOINTMENT CONFIRMED
BBC Nottingham website:
Updated 18.30pm, 03.12.02
Keith Curle's appointment was finally made public late this afternoon, though it's understood he took charge of this morning's training session at Field Mill. The former Bristol City, Wimbledon, Manchester City and Wolves defender arrives as Player-Manager, so his experience on the field could be an invaluable asset to the Stags, as they bid to move off the foot of the second division table. Fans will be hoping Curle can shore up their leaky defence... 53 goals against in 20 league matches is simply too many. He'll take charge for the first time against Crewe Alexandra in the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday... the Stags have already lost 5-0 and 4-0 to Crewe this season, so any improvement at the back would be immediately noticeable. Curle will be officially unveiled as the new boss at a press conference tomorrow morning, and BBC Radio Nottingham understands that he may also be present at tonight's Fans' Forum at Field Mill. He takes over from Stuart Watkiss, who left the club yesterday along with his assistant Neil Richardson...though both returned to the ground this morning. Talks have subsequently been held to iron out any contractual wrangles....and the announcement of Curle's appointment would suggest that any problems regarding a financial settlement have now been solved.
Curle finally takes over Field Mill hot-seat
FORMER England international Keith Curle has been charged with the mammoth task of keeping Mansfield Town in the Second Division.
Stags parted company with Stuart Watkiss and Neil Richardson on Monday just seven months after the pair led the club to promotion from Division Three.
But 53 goals conceded in their 20 Second Division games to date - the worst defensive record in the country - has seen them anchored to bottom spot, six points from safety and facing relegation.
Curle (39), who once went to from Wimbledon to Manchester City for a £2.5m fee, has three full England caps to his name and will come in as player-manager with chairman Keith Haslam hoping he can use his massive experience out on the park as well as in the dressing room to stem the tide of goals against.
John Gannon, currently on the Stags Football in the Community side, and youth team coach Paul Holland, will initially help him in the capacity of joint assistant managers, though nothing permanent has yet been discussed.
Confusion reigned over Watkiss' departure with Watkiss stating he had been sacked and Haslam later denying that and saying it had been by mutual consent.
Watkiss and Richardson subsequently turned in for work on Tuesday morning. But Curle took training and by the end of the day a financial package for the pair had been agreed by both sides.
"It's been a difficult couple of days as Stuart has never been in this position before and a lot of information was getting out that was not factual," said Haslam.
"Over the past few weeks Stuart had indicated he could not blame the chairman if he wanted to change things.
"We discussed this over the weekend after the 4-2 defeat at Port Vale which led us further down that road. Then on Monday we spoke further and agreed something had to be done. The way Stuart took it was not as I read the situation.
"I enjoyed my time working with him and he has come a long way. We have given him opportunities here as player, youth team coach and first team coach and wish him the very best.
"There is no animosity and, although he may have to take a step back to move forwards, I hope he is successful and one day we can say proudly that he managed here too."
However, the current situation demanded immediate action and Curle, who had trained with the club earlier this season, was swiftly appointed.
Bristol-born Curle, who has played for Bristol Rovers, Torquay United, Bristol City, Reading, Wimbledon, Manchester City, Wolves and Sheffield United during a glittering career, had been looking for a chance to hop on the managerial merry-go-round all season since turning down a new playing contract at Sheffield United in the summer.
"It is clear we have to tighten things up as I am fed up of being told how good we are and then losing ground on clubs we feel we are as good as," added Haslam. "And it's not just the back three or back four - defending starts from the front.
"Keith Curle will come in with fresh views and that is going to stimulate our players.
"Confidence in the team has been fragile though some of our attacking play has been superb - it's just na ve defending letting us down.
"Keith is probably the most experienced player still playing in the League and he is a leader, playing the last 14 years as a captain.
"I have spoken to a number of people in the game who have played with him or managed him and they all agree he is a very strong character in the dressing room with very strong views and very strong ideas how to go forward.
"He wants to be a success as a manager as he has been as a player and I like what I have heard.
"Some managers don't like him in the dressing room with his strong views but you have to respect them and I hold him in high regard."
Haslam added: "We have promoted from within the club in recent years to keep continuity but Keith's attitude is refreshing and maybe it is time for some outside views.
"He comes to the area with a clean slate and I hope he will be well received by supporters. A club like Mansfield for the foreseeable future cannot bring in a successful manager from another club like Liverpool and Manchester United.
"We either take on someone who has failed elsewhere or take a chance on an inexperienced man and hope he comes off.
"We had to do something now with the FA Cup and then the crunch Christmas period coming up."
Watkiss was naturally gutted but said: "Neil Richardson and myself would like to thank the coaching staff, medical staff, and all other ground staff for their continued support and advice during our spell in charge.
"We genuinely wish Mansfield Town Football Club well in the future."
Stags won just 16 of his 45 games in charge, drawing five and losing 24, scoring 71 goals but letting in 96.
Curle will take charge for this Saturday's daunting FA Cup trip to Crewe Alexandra (3pm) though will not be able to play as he was not registered with the club seven days before the tie.
His task will be made harder with on-loan Colin Little unavailable and trio Liam Lawrence, Lee Williamson and Neil Moore suspended for the clash with a side that has already won 5-0 and 4-0 at Field Mill this season.