Fresh start for Cureton
David Cuffley Jamie Cureton is eager to grab an unexpected chance to kick-start his Norwich City career - third time around.The 33-year-old striker was expected to face Barnsley in today's Championship match at Carrow Road, just three days after returning from a loan spell with the Yorkshire club.
Jamie Cureton is eager to grab an unexpected chance to kick-start his Norwich City career - third time around.
The 33-year-old striker was expected to face Barnsley in today's Championship match at Carrow Road, just three days after returning from a loan spell with the Yorkshire club.
For Cureton, it represents another opportunity to cement his place in the side, a chance he feared may have gone when manager Glenn Roeder offloaded him in November.
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Asked if he felt a three-month loan at Oakwell might have signalled the end of the road with City, he admitted: “Yes, possibly. While Glenn was here I don't think I'd have been called back like I am now. My loan would have finished in February, so it was a case of seeing what happened then.
“Maybe while he was here the time was up, I don't know. So I have half-thought about it but tried not to concentrate too much on it. I thought if I did well up there then maybe I would come back and play but there were times when I thought it might be it.”
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The 33-year-old Cureton was at Carrow Road on Tuesday night to watch the FA Cup replay against Charlton, which proved to be Roeder's last game in charge. The next afternoon, he was recalled from Barnsley.
“It's been quite hectic on a personal level,” he said. “I was literally coming back to watch a game of football and during that time the manager's gone and I've been called back. It's been a lot to take in but for me to be back is great, it's what I want to do so I'm pleased on that point.
“When you look around, the squad is very light and it makes you think having players out on loan doesn't make sense. The club obviously felt that. Whether I've come back to go straight in or just come back to be part of the squad, you need as many players as possible and it seems pointless having someone out on loan with a club that's in a similar position, helping them. You might as well have that person back trying to do the same for Norwich so it seemed the logical thing to do.”
Despite City's grim night against Charlton, Roeder's swift exit still surprised Cureton.
He said: “You could see that things weren't right. You just looked at the lads and they just didn't seem to have that spark any more. But I didn't really go away from the ground thinking that was it. You just felt that it was another game that put pressure on the boss.
“The board must have thought about it that night, had a big meeting and thought about the games we had coming up and felt they needed to make a big decision on whether the gaffer took us forward or they thought it was the right thing to do to get rid of him and get someone in quick and start afresh. That's what they've done. You knew there was pressure on him but I didn't think that night it would be over the next day.”
The appointment of Cureton's former team-mate, Bryan Gunn, in a caretaker manager role was likely to lift the squad, he said.
“I think the lads maybe need a lift, maybe need to be given some positive vibes, really, told they are good players and they can go out and perform and I think Gunny will do that,” said Cureton. “From watching the other night they just looked like shells, to be honest, didn't look like the same sort of side that I'd left only six weeks ago and I think that needs to be put back into the players - the belief, some positive vibes.”
Cureton made his City debut against Mike Walker's Everton in 1994 and scored six times in 32 appearances before Walker, by then back as Norwich boss, sold him to Bristol Rovers for �250,000 in 1996.
The much-travelled striker was re-signed by Peter Grant in the summer of 2007 for a reported �800,000 and was top scorer last season with 14 goals in 45 games in all competitions.
This season, three starts and 12 appearances as a substitute failed to yield a goal before Roeder lost patience, but Cureton senses a new start.
“Definitely, I've been called back and it's a case of right, go out and get going,” he said. “The early part of the season wasn't great, I wasn't really playing but I've managed to get away for six weeks and play a lot of games and get some goals.
“I imagine I'll be the older head, one of the most experienced ones out there - if picked. It's down to me to spread some experience around and try to get everyone going again, really. I think the boys realise the situation we're in and we've got to get going as quickly as possible.”
Gunn said he had not made the final decision to bring back Cureton but agreed with it.
He said: “It made sense. Jamie's been in Barnsley's dressing room for the last three or four games and seems to have got his goalscoring touch back up there. He's a bubbly character as well. He's got an opportunity to show that he's worthy of a place in the 16.”