Curle revels in Rovers victory and takes pride in winning supporters’ backing

PEACEMAKER: Keith Curle tries to drag Rovers captain Paul Digby away from Kevin van Veen during a late fracas in Saturday's game. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds
PEACEMAKER: Keith Curle tries to drag Rovers captain Paul Digby away from Kevin van Veen during a late fracas in Saturday's game. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

It was not so much the fact his side won Saturday’s game against Forest Green Rovers that pleased manager Keith Curle most, nor even the dramatic way in which they did it, but rather the delirious, united celebrations that followed Andy Williams’ thrilling stoppage-time winner.

You would not normally witness such crazy, joyous celebrations for a home victory in mid-October as fans invaded the pitch, coaches jumped for joy and players struggled to contain their excitement, but those scenes were a reflection of the hardships the Cobblers have endured in recent times.

The way Williams’ dramatic goal was greeted would have befitted that of a title-cinching win but while there was no doubt plenty of happiness in Town’s long overdue first home win of the season, the overwhelming emotion was one of utter relief.

It was also the perfect way for Curle to properly announce himself to his new fans as a promising start to his tenure became an excellent one, with Northampton now four games unbeaten since he was appointed.

Chosen as Dean Austin’s successor earlier in the month, Curle has spoken about winning the respect of the club’s supporters and there’s no better way to achieve that than by picking up points and doing it in such enthralling fashion.

“My job in the technical area is to earn the respect of the supporters that come in and pay their money,” said the delighted Town chief after Saturday’s win.

“I’ve got players, staff, supporters and owners of the football club and I’ve got to earn the right to be respected and I do that by the information that I give players and the structures that I put in place and the demands I put in place.”

The wild celebration following Williams’ goal, and when the full-time whistle blew, were all the confirmation that Curle wanted and required. “It was very pleasing and it’s excellent as a coach when you know that you’ve got the backing of the support and we saw that with the second goal,” he added.

“Being able to force a goal is vitally important and we saw that on Saturday with the celebrations that there was a feeling of belonging and that’s very important as a manager and staff members coming into the club.

“You want to belong, you want to be part of the DNA and part of the structure to take the football club forward.”

There was a feeling of belonging and that’s very important as a manager. You want to belong, you want to be part of the DNA and part of the structure to take the football club forward.

Curle has not done anything groundbreaking during his two weeks at the helm but it’s the simple things that made a big difference, whether that’s working on set-pieces, tweaking the formation or improving certain individuals through careful man management.

Resilience and resolve were not words particularly associated with the Cobblers before his arrival but the 54-year-old has taken a mere two weeks to achieve something twice that his four predecessors failed to manage between them: turn a half-time deficit into a full-time victory.

Aaron Pierre had a hand in both, scoring the winner against Oxford United last Tuesday and then pegging Forest Green back to 1-1 with a thumping header just past the hour mark on Saturday.

“He’s a big, strong, brave lad and he’s prepared to go and work hard,” said Curle. “Like lot of the lads in the dressing room, he wants to learn.

“He’s a sponge and wants to take in more information, he wants to improve individually and collectively, and he wants to be part of a team that’s on the front foot.

“That’s pleasing for me and I think there are a lot of players that are performing at a very good level and my job is to keep those demands on the players and simplify the information but to get them to enjoy doing the simple things.”

Curle has never been one to shy away from heated situations and he showed that in the closing stages of Saturday’s game when getting involved in a scuffle between Kevin van Veen and Rovers boss Mark Cooper.

“The situation was that there was an altercation and Mark Cooper tried to make sure Kevin van Veen didn’t get sent off or didn’t get involved,” he explained.

“He’s tried to act as the peacemaker but, from where I was, all I saw was an opposition player with his hands on my player and the complex character that Kevin is means I felt I need to get close to him in situations like that and not anybody else.”