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Last Updated: Monday, 9 August, 2004, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
Dowie playing catch-up
By Chris Bevan

Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie
Iain Dowie has the same aim as the managers of the two other newly-promoted clubs - survival.

But the Crystal Palace boss admits he is already playing catch-up to Norwich and West Brom - not to mention the rest of the top-flight.

The Baggies have a squad full of Premiership experience, while Norwich's team dominated Division One last year.

Palace were fighting relegation when Dowie arrived last December - now they find themselves in the Premiership.

From fourth-bottom in the table, they embarked on a fantastic run that saw them win promotion by beating West Ham in the play-off final.

The Eagles' rapid rise took even Dowie by surprise, and he admits his squad will not be ready when Palace's first Premiership season since 1997/98 begins on Saturday.

You can't realistically go straight from being a struggling First Division side to being one with a well-organised European scouting network - it doesn't happen
Iain Dowie

They have only five players who have played in the Premiership within their ranks - Danny Granville, Dougie Freedman, Neil Shipperley, Michael Hughes and assistant manager Kit Symons.

And Dowie, himself a rookie manager, accepts the next few months will be a learning process for him and his team - on and off the pitch.

"We're up earlier than expected - but now we're here we've got to crack on," Dowie told BBC Sport.

"I've got to make sure we're as organised as we can be come kick-off, and then when we get new players in, which we will do, we'll have to readjust and reform.

"There are two phases for us in terms of strengthening the squad.

DOWIE'S MANAGERIAL RECORD
C Palace: 22/12/03-current
P26 W16 D3 L7
Oldham: 31/05/02-19/12/03
P82 W31 D28 L23

"Because we were so late, the first phase has been a bit of a calculated risk.

"You can't realistically go straight from being a struggling First Division side to being one with a well-organised European scouting network - it doesn't happen.

"I'm not going to know every player from Croatia to the Baltics, I've got to go out there and learn about it.

"That will come, and I will probably do more in the January transfer window when I know it better."

But while Dowie is looking to continue his footballing education, he also wants to make the most of the coming season.

"We've got to readjust quickly," he admitted.

"We may not beat Arsenal or Manchester United but we will have to beat sides who have been around in the Premiership if we want to be here next year.

"Our aim for the season is to stay up, but if we finish it as a better team than we did the last one then we've made huge strides - and that's the key."

PALACE'S SUMMER SIGNINGS
Gabor Kiraly - Hertha Berlin (free)
Emmerson Boyce - Luton Town (free)
Mark Hudson - Fulham (550,000)
Julian Speroni - Dundee (500,000)
Joonas Kolkka - B M'gladbach (300,000)
Sandor Torghelle - MTK Hungaria (750,000)

If Dowie needed an idea of the task ahead of him, he got it in January when his side were thumped 3-0 by Tottenham in the FA Cup third round.

"There is a definite gulf between the Premiership and Division One. The Spurs result last year tells us that," he added.

"We got well and truly beaten - and deserved it.

"Power and strength and all those physical things were what we were lacking on the day.

"We must address that - and it's my job to bring in players that can cope, and also to have a belief in the players that we have got that they can improve and adjust to that level.

"We haven't got that many players with Premiership experience but they will be important.

"But at the same time if a player has no experience of it, he won't be afraid of it - so it could be an advantage.

"It's a double-edged sword and I'm not worried about it - I'm just worried about how we perform in each game, starting with Norwich away on Saturday."






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