Charlton Athletic 0 Watford 0: Charlton flaws leave Dowie struggling to find positives in grumpy Valley

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The Independent Online

You will not find two more positive or loquacious personalities in the game than Iain Dowie and Adrian Boothroyd. But if the Premiership's bottom two sides do not start improving soon, mere words will not be enough to convince a sceptical public that their respective clubs can win enough games to avoid relegation.

Indeed, the strain is already beginning to tell on Dowie who admits that when he made the short hop from Crystal Palace to take over from Alan Curbishley, he fully expected to be in mid-table by now. Instead, Charlton remain in dire trouble and The Valley a far from happy place with rumours of disruption in the dressing-room as well as disharmony among the staff.

Despite bags of effort and a virtuoso display of creativity from the former Tottenham midfielder Andy Reid, employed as an energetic playmaker, Dowie's side fired blanks but the manager is trying to keep a lid on all the negatives.

"I always analyse what I do and we have to face this head-on," he said. "The chairman hasn't mentioned my position but with four points from eight games, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know you are under pressure. I didn't come in on Friday morning which is unusual because I'm normally first in. I thought I'd let them hear a different voice. But I take the positives out of every game. The players have to know you believe in them - and I do."

Before the season began, Boothroyd boldly predicted that he wouldn't be satisfied with mere survival and a fourth from bottom finish. Though they have still to collect their first maximum points haul, he stands by that assertion and is quick to dismiss those who denounce his team's long-ball style.

On Saturday, his goalkeeper Ben Foster started a move by throwing the ball to halfway inside Charlton's half. But Boothroyd defends his tactics to the hilt. "Everyone is entitled to his opinion," he said. "If I start worrying about what everyone thinks and take too much on board, then I am weak."

What Watford lack in quality they certainly make up for in teamwork and spirit. But just like Charlton, they need goals - and fast. Even without the injured Marlon King, their direct style almost paid dividends with three strong second-half chances, one a sitter, while at the back, the authoritative Danny Shittu kept Charlton out, aided by another fine performance from his goalkeeper.

"We need the ball to go in any which way, even off someone's backside," Boothroyd said. "When it does, the goals will start flooding. I will never question what I believe we are capable of because if the leader starts to waver, you've got a problem. We've created chances and kept clean sheets. Maybe we've been a little soft at times but once we get that first win, we'll be away."

Charlton Athletic (4-5-1): Carson; Young, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Diawara; Rommedahl, Holland, Faye, Reid, Thomas (Hasselbaink 77); D Bent. Substitutes not used: Myhre (gk), Kishishev, M Bent, Hughes.

Watford (4-4-2): Foster; Doyley, DeMerit, Shittu, Stewart; Smith, Mahon, Francis, Bouazza (Powell 90); Henderson, Young. Substitutes not used: Lee (gk), Mackay, Priskin, Spring.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

Booked: Charlton: Holland, D Bent.

Man of the match: Reid.

Attendance: 27,011.

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