Iain Dowie believes his Charlton Athletic team have started to turn the corner in their season and are finally beginning to build an "understanding" and "togetherness" within the squad after three games without defeat. Unfortunately, blocking their path today is Stuart Pearce, the manager of a Manchester City team that are just as desperate to win.
Sitting at the bottom of the League, Dowie is under considerable pressure to orchestrate a turnaround in fortunes that will propel his team towards Europe, while his City counterpart was criticised publicly by his chairman, John Wardle, after a 4-0 defeat to Wigan.
But Dowie and Pearce are used to the hard life. Both started their playing careers in non-League football - a grounding that shaped their managerial styles, chiselled by experiences in the Premier League. "Stuart has come up that way, it is no-nonsense-style," Dowie said. "He doesn't take any rubbish. He says it as it is."
The pair have had many confrontations before - Dowie was a forward, Pearce a defender - and have almost come to blows, so they are used to pressure.
"Don't come into this environment if you think there is not going to be pressure," Dowie said. "It would have been easy for me not to have accepted the job after Alan [Curbishley's] success. That's the easy option, but that's not what I'm about."
Dowie is a great admirer of Pearce, who has developed City with limited resources. "He was a fantastic player. Everyone in the nation remembers him scoring that penalty [against Spain in the European Championships in 1996] - it was an iconic moment in his career," Dowie said. "He had a difficult time and came back and showed the right character. His team will do that and we want our team to do that, too."
Character from his players is what the Charlton manager needs right now. With only five points from his first 10 League games the Addicks have had a brief resurgence recently, after five consecutive defeats, with two draws but what Dowie really needs is a win. "It is our biggest game of the season," he said. "If you were a weak character, faint heart, in non-League you would not survive." And Dowie knows that goes for the Premiership, too.Reuse content