Cureton - we're much tougher now
DAVID CUFFLEY Striker Jamie Cureton has promised Norwich City's Christmas opponents they will face a very different challenge to the one they brushed aside so easily earlier in the season.
Striker Jamie Cureton has promised Norwich City's Christmas opponents they will face a very different challenge to the one they brushed aside so easily earlier in the season.
Cureton came off the bench to fire the Canaries to victory at Scunthorpe on Saturday and lift them out of the bottom six in the Coca-Cola Championship table.
Now Glenn Roeder's men face promotion-chasing Charlton Athletic at Carrow Road on Wednesday (3pm) and fellow challengers Wolves at home three days later - sell-out games against sides who both beat them 2-0 back in September, with City barely firing a shot in anger in either game.
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But Cureton, whose goal 12 minutes from time at Glanford Park was his first away from home this season, delighting more than 1,300 travelling fans, said they were now a much tougher proposition.
He said: “I think we were on nine points a while ago and looked not so much dead and buried but like we had a hell of a task on our hands. But we felt if we regrouped and started winning matches and gaining in confidence we could get out of trouble, and so far we've done that.
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“We're a much different team now - a lot more resolute. We dig in and we've nicked results and also played well and deserved to win games. We've put ourselves back in the frame to start clawing up the table and that was the main aim going into the new year.
“Things didn't go well but now we've got our confidence back and we still feel we're as good as anyone in the league. So those two teams coming to us are going to fear us now a lot more than probably a month or two ago. We've got to use that to our advantage. I think if we keep playing with the same determination and the quality we've shown on the ball, we can win both games, but we know we have to be on our game. We know if we slip, these teams are very good and they can punish you.”
Cureton, a second-half substitute for Dion Dublin, confessed that he almost blew the chance to bag his seventh goal of the season, and his first in six matches.
He said: “It's not been the longest I've gone without a goal. I just think with the chances I've had in a few games, I've been disappointed I've missed them, so it's sort of built up, really.
“People have kept saying 'When are you going to score?' and I feel like I've gone 20 games without a goal. So today is a relief, definitely.
“I concentrated so much because of the way things have been going, I ended up mishitting it and then thinking 'Oh God, it's missed' and then it hit the post and went in, but as long as you put yourself in the position, you give yourself a chance. Today it's gone in, it's capped off a great performance.
“We defended very well. We didn't play great, but we've had two away games now and taken four points and shown that we've got a lot of strength of character in the whole squad.
“I want to play every game, so when we found the team out today I was disappointed in not starting, but as you get older, you have to look at the bigger picture. It's not just about me, it's about Norwich City and we're all in it together. The manager has to pick the team that he feels can win the game. If you're in it, great, if you're not, you have to bide your time and then come on and do something.”
Roeder said: “I made a decision not to start Jamie Cureton, but as I said at the team meeting, probably the person who's going to win us this game might not even be starting. Although I'm not normally very good at looking into a crystal ball, that's the way it turned out. Jamie came on and scored the winner.
“He was disappointed, very disappointed that he didn't start, which is the attitude I want from my players. If they don't start they show the attitude where they're hugely disappointed - and he showed that. But the key thing for me, and I said it to him afterwards, when he stepped across the white line he was at it straightaway and he was flat out and he got what he deserved - the winning goal.”