Dowie trusts in Santa Claus and chicken soup to sustain Palace

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The Independent Online

Iain Dowie will do anything to steal a motivational march on Crystal Palace's rivals. Having attempted to lift his team's spirits this week with a game of cricket, the manager revealed that he was drawing personal inspiration from a classic Hollywood movie.

With Sunday's Premiership finale approaching - Palace will avoid relegation if they win at Charlton while Norwich and Southampton fail to beat Fulham and Manchester United - Dowie was asked which team were going to survive.

"We are," he replied. "That's what we believe. As a manager I have to believe. I'm in Miracle on 34th Street. If you've seen the film, that's me. I believe in Father Christmas. I think the film says: 'Better the lie that draws a smile than the truth that draws a tear.' I have to believe in the good things in people. I believe this group of players deserves to stay in the Premiership."

If May seemed an odd time to invoke the spirit of George Seaton's 1947 film - in which a department store Santa Claus attempts to convince a little girl who does not believe in Father Christmas - Dowie revealed other guiding lights. "We are going to give it our all," he said. "There must be nothing left in the tank."

Dowie turned to another source of inspiration he shares with John Harbin, the fitness conditioner he brought to Palace from Oldham. "John introduced me to Chicken Soup for the Soul books," Dowie said. "They change your life. They're true stories. They make you believe in the good in people. When I was a young player people said: 'Never trust players.' I'm the other end of the spectrum. You've got to trust in people. These players have never let me down. I trust in them to deliver on Sunday."

Dowie hopes he has revived spirits following Saturday's 2-2 draw against Southampton, when a goal conceded in injury time left Palace's fate at least partly in others' hands.

"There's no time to be tripping over your bottom lip," he said. "We've got to move on. I made the point: 'If anyone feels down in the dumps, don't come out training. I don't need you.' What we need are people who have put that behind them and moved on."

He added: "There's no disappointment around the place now. We can't have people feeling disappointed. People come in and you say: 'What's the matter with you?' I said that to a few staff yesterday. 'Cheer up, go out and wash your face, get going, come out with a different face.' That's the way we've got to be."

Dowie says the example of Tom Soares, an 18-year-old midfielder, has shown what can be achieved. "You have to remember there are not too many other Premiership sides who would be playing lads who are on £350 a week," he said. "He's just signed a new deal but that was the money he was on before that."

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