Curbs wins Powell's vote in battle of England rivals

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The Independent Online

Charlton defender Chris Powell is convinced that his manager, Alan Curbishley, is a genuine contender to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson as England manager. The 36-year-old, capped five times under the Swede, knows Curbishley better than most having enjoyed two spells under him at The Valley.

Charlton take on Manchester City today in a game that takes on extra significance because the home side are managed by another strong contender for the England post, Stuart Pearce. While Powell insisted it was not a topic of conversation among his team-mates, he knew exactly why Curbishley's name was being quoted. He said: "It's a big decision and I know there are a lot of people in Pearce's corner, a lot in Curbs' and in Martin O'Neill's and Guus Hiddink's. It's a very good list.

"They have all got a chance and our own manager has always been talked about. Then there is Sam Allardyce. People are not talking about him now when last week he was the favourite, so it will always change.

"Curbs has been fantastic for this club and I'm sure most of the fans wouldn't want him to leave. The players are more worried about what we are doing. But Curbs is a manager who knows players well and would be able to spot players who could fit into a system."

Curbishley has been at The Valley helm for 15 years, making him the third longest-serving current manager in England, after Dario Gradi and Sir Alex Ferguson. The England position would be a huge honour for Curbishley but also a major change of routine. Powell added: "With England you have a lot of time on your hands to plan and when you have been ingrained in club football seven days a week it will be very different. There is a lot of watching games and phone calls to managers to see how players are."

Pearce, meanwhile, is adamant that the £6m arrival of Greek striker Georgios Samaras is no gamble. While many pundits predicted his major transfer-window purchase would be a proven Premiership striker such as Dean Ashton, the City manager instead blew almost his entire budget on the relatively unknown 20-year-old Samaras.

The Greek is the second most expensive purchase in City's history, behind Nicolas Anelka, an astonishing statement of faith. "I am not the sort of man who would want to walk away from this club and leave it with absolutely nothing," said Pearce. "I feel you have to look at both the short and long term - and while my eyes are solely focused on beating Charlton, you can't be blinkered and just say it is the only thing that matters. I must also have an eye on the education of young players who will stand us in good stead for the months and years to come.

"If the next manager of City came in and said he had been left some great talent to work with it would be a great feather in my cap."

City's £57m debt may also have something to do with a revised transfer policy which desires a return on any investment.

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