Dowie to follow in Pardew's footsteps

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The Independent Football

Iain Dowie has the utmost respect for the way Alan Pardew remained composed during testing times at West Ham - and sees no reason why his new-look Charlton cannot also move forward this season.

It was not so long ago that certain sections of the Upton Park faithful were calling for Pardew's head with the east London club struggling in the Championship after failing to secure a swift return to the top flight following defeat to Dowie's Crystal Palace in the 2004 play-off final.

Two successful campaigns and an FA Cup final appearance later, however, and those same supporters are now preparing for European football.

Dowie, who took charge at Charlton this summer, believes the transformation of the club he supported as a youngster and had two separate spells with in the 1990s is testament to the character of their manager.

"The thing about adversity is that if you come out of it the right way, it makes you stronger - that is what Alan has done," said Dowie, whose side head to Upton Park for Saturday's Premiership opener. "I probably made it worse for him when I was at Palace and we beat them in the play-off final, but he has come through that strongly.

"Alan went on to get them promoted and has since gone from strength to strength, with the club in a situation now where they are able to spend £7m on a player like Dean Ashton."

Charlton enter a new era this season following the departure of the long-serving manager Alan Curbishley, with many wondering what the future holds for the south-east London club.

Despite several additions to the squad - including the midfielder Andy Reid, the veteran striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Djimi Traoré, Amady Faye and the on-loan Liverpool goalkeeper Scott Carson - the Addicks have been installed among the leading contenders to be relegated.

Dowie, however, insists everyone at Charlton remains positive. "We want to crack on from where we were last season, and if you do get into the top half then you have to be ambitious and push on from there," he said. "We believe we have an opportunity to play some attractive football and get the results we desire."

The striker Darren Bent is convinced the Addicks have what it takes to compete at the right end of the table this season after once occupying second place before again fading badly towards the end of the 2005/06 campaign.

"We should have qualified for Europe last season," he said. "We started well and were second in the League, and in the top six for a long time, so we know now that we are capable of pushing for Europe. We just need to find that bit more - hopefully we can do that under Iain Dowie."

Bent, 22, was the leading home-grown goalscorer in the top flight last season and is away on international duty with England. The former Ipswich marksman agreed a new four-year deal in the summer, and knows he is in the right place. "You could make a jump into a bigger team and not get the chance to play, that would affect your development as a player," Bent said. "The only way I can get better is by playing more, and I can do that here. There was speculation about leaving - but it has not affected me."

Charlton have agreed a new partnership with BBC Radio Kent to broadcast all of their matches live next season. The Addicks already bus hundreds of supporters into home games from the south-east county, as well as Sussex and Hampshire, via the Valley Express.

Peter Varney, the Charlton chief executive, said: "With so many of our supporters now based in Kent, this will offer them an additional sports service and will, I am sure, prove popular. This is an important step in the marketing strategy for our club going forward."