Dowie asks players to make up for 'black day'

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Iain Dowie has called on his Crystal Palace players to wipe out the memory of a "black day" for the club by returning to winning ways in this weekend's relegation showdown against Norwich.

Iain Dowie has called on his Crystal Palace players to wipe out the memory of a "black day" for the club by returning to winning ways in this weekend's relegation showdown against Norwich.

It was the manner of the 4-0 defeat at fourth-placed Everton on Sunday which continued to annoy the Eagles manager yesterday.

Palace could have moved out of the relegation zone with a rare away victory, but instead capitulated - particularly during the second half - to David Moyes' Champions' League hopefuls in their third successive Premiership defeat.

Meanwhile, the Canaries recorded a remarkable 2-0 win over Manchester United to renew their own fading hopes of beating the drop.

Although they remain bottom, Nigel Worthington's men are now just three points behind the Eagles going into Saturday's game at Selhurst Park.

Dowie admitted his squad had engaged in a "vibrant" and "frank" discussion on their return to training this week - and believed it had been a positive exercise ahead of this weekend's crucial encounter.

"We had a vibrant discussion yesterday morning, that will remain in house - but sometimes you have to tell it like it is and they are aware of that," the Palace manager said.

"There have probably been around 250 minutes this season where we have not competed, and that was one of the 45 or 50 minutes where we didn't.

"I was fairly angry, but after some time to reflect, most of that anger turned to a little bit more rational behaviour. We are talking about a result which was a black day for the club.

"It was not a performance, in the second half, which represents what we are about at this football club - and therefore we need to respond in the right fashion. It is about deeds and actions, not words now."

Dowie added: "We certainly had a frank discussion all round from both sides of the camp, and we then went out and did some training. There was a nice, bright atmosphere about it.

"Whenever you come to this situation, the gravity and pressure of the games has an affect, that is the nature of human beings.

"It is about keeping your calm and trying to look beyond that, keeping that confident, relaxed self-belief."

Dowie accepted Saturday's match with Norwich, managed by his old Northern Ireland team-mate, will be viewed as crucial to either side's survival chances.

However, the Palace manager maintained he would ensure his men did not lose sight of the bigger picture, which with six games left, will not be crystal clear one way or another this week. "We have got opportunities where they are 'must-win' games for all people down there," said Dowie, whose men also face strugglers Southampton before the end of the campaign.

"But we mustn't get wrapped up in the 'six-pointer ethic' and lose sight of what we are doing. You have got to play your football, be relaxed, confident, believe in your team-mates - all the things which we have talked about, that is the key."

There was an insight into Dowie's motivation techniques on display at the club's Beckenham training ground yesterday morning, with notes left out on the canteen tables reading: "Though no-one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."

And the Palace manager explained: "It's just something I do. In all winners you find it - that different, mental edge. You can't sit here and read or lecture on psychology and use Churchillian speeches and all that guff if you don't work on the training ground.

"If you have togetherness and belief and goals in life, along with working hard, then it works. I know when the chips are down and you look around, there will be people here who will be in the trenches with you, and that is important."

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