STAGS BRACED FOR CURLE RAID
Stags braced for Curle raid
CHAD website, 03 May 2005
MANSFIELD Town are bracing themselves for a player raid by Keith Curle.
The former Stags boss took over the reins at League Two rivals Chester City last week.
And among his targets could be out-of-contract Alex Neil, who has won three Player of the Year awards at Field Mill.
Neil began Saturday afternoon with an armful of awards - landing the Player of the Year accolade from Chad Readers, the Stags Supporters Association and fanzine Follow the Yellow Brick Road.
And he went on to mark his day with a Man of the Match display.
Manager Carlton Palmer has already offered the talented young Scot a new contract and wants him to stay, ironically after initially telling Neil he would be surplus to requirements when he took over the reins.
"It's always the way when former managers take over elsewhere that they go back to their old clubs for players.
"And with Keith Curle taking over at Chester I think we may have a bit of a problem keeping Alex Neil here as he signed Alex in the first place.
"The player is out of contract so there's nothing we can do. We have spoken to Alex and his agent, offered him a deal, and hope he signs. It's all down to if Alex Neil really wants to stay here. There is a bit of negotiating yet to do.
"I suspect Alex won't be the only one who interests Keith Curle either."
Neil said: "Me staying is down to the manager and we will have a talk and see what happens.
"It is nice to receive all these awards, but it's a team effort and if the team don't play well then I don't play well."
Stags will be looking to end the season on a high at Leyton Orient this Saturday (3pm).
Stags fans are reminded that due to refurbishment work at Brisbane Road, the match is all-ticket to Stags fans.
Over half the 500 allocation have already been sold and they remain on sale at Field Mill until 4pm on Friday.
Fans are warned not to travel to London without a ticket.
"If we can win down there we may end the season just six points off the play-offs which is good considering the situation here when I came in.
"It would give us a good starting point for next season.
"We would not have done as well if I had not made the changes I did. We had one or two players who lacked that desire and I brought in hungry young players.
"It all bodes well, though I am disappointed not to finish higher as I set my standards very high."
Palmer intends to keep his squad in trim during the summer and has worked out a staggered training programme to allow some time off.
Players will get a work off after the Orient game and then go in three times a week.
Holidays can be taken between 3rd and 27th June with comprehensive fitness tests on 22nd June.
On Saturday's 3-2 success against Boston United, he added: "I was disappointed with the way we gave away a sloppy goal at the end and put ourselves under unnecessary pressure.
"Maybe I am being over-critical, but we have to set our standards high if we are going to achieve what we want to achieve next season.
"We have been creating so many chances someone was due a hammering from us and it should have been against Boston with the chances we had.
"The fans were superb again on Saturday. I think they can now see what I am doing and are getting behind the lads. But I need time.
"Rome wasn't built in a day and we are not a promotion-winning team yet. I am pleased with the nucleus of players but I have a lot of hard work to do in the summer.
"It would have been totally unjust if Boston had got a point as we were the better team. But we showed a bit of fatigue near the end and lost concentration."
"All the young lads have done very well. They are improving, but it takes time. It is difficult when somebody comes in and says you're not match fit.
"We are nowhere near the fitness and tempo I want to be at, but they are aware of that and we will be working very hard over the summer to get that right."
Palmer said although there had been no action on the transfer market, he was still looking to line up deals over the summer.
"No club really signs players until the end of June so I'm just lining up deals, speaking to players I'm interested in and trying to see if we can agree terms within the budget of what we can pay," he said. "Whether pre-contracts are done or not, nobody will be coming into the club before June time."
Contract talks continue
Carlton Palmer will be attempting to tie up the loose ends regarding contracts at the club this week.
As the team are preparing for their final game of the 2004/05 campaign the stags boss will be having discussions with the [players that are due to be out of contract in June. Alex Neil, Kevin Pilkington and Scott McNiven are amongst the players that Palmer will be talking to through the week.
"I will be talking to the players that I want to keep at the football club and I will be getting them in one at the time. Alex Neil is the one I am working on at the moment. I will be talking to Scott McNiven today at some time and the others later in the week. I not sure at the moment whether or not they will be staying that depends on the negotiations."
One player that will be pleased about being offered a new contract is Ale Neil who was told early on in Palmer's reign that there wasn't a place for him.
"You have to make a decision on players and the way you would like the way your team will take shape early on. I made the decision that Alex Neil did not fit into my team plans. But, as in life it is always nice to be proven wrong. I always said that Alex was a good player but there wasn't a position in the team for him - I still don't have a definitive position for him, he is a good player but where do I play him?
"He has played exceptionally well and his attitude has been perfect and I would like to retain his services at this football club and that is what the negotiations are trying to resolve." He explained.
Curle will still sue:
KEITH CURLE still wants to sue Mansfield for unfair dismissal despite taking the Chester job this week.
Curle was dismissed by Stags late last year for allegedly bullying a youth player during a weight-training exercise.
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