Byline: SIMON JOHNSON
IAIN DOWIE is not the type of man to be easily intimidated but even he might feel in the shade when Steve Coppell brings his Reading side to Selhurst Park tonight.
Coppell is regarded by Crystal Palace fans as the best manager in their history and will receive a warm reception, even if he is aiming to put a dent into Palace's hopes of automatic promotion by inspiring Reading to another three points.
The former Manchester United winger has proven his managerial qualities, despite his brief stay at Manchester City in 1996, and his tenure at Reading is launching him back into the big time.
Unbeaten since losing against Plymouth in the opening match of the season, the Championship leaders are already on the verge of the Premiership, with a 21-point lead over third-placed Leeds.
This was the position Palace chairman Simon Jordan had expected his team to be in when he made his preseason forecast, but they are a further four points back in fifth place.
However, Palace manager Dowie has only admiration for Coppell and just hopes he can replace his rival in the Selhurst Park fans' hearts one day.
He said: "No one in these parts needs to tell me what kind of manager Steve is. He is arguably the best manager in the club's history and is proving what a good manager he is at Reading. He has bought well and has a team to be proud of.
"All I can do is try to emulate what Steve has done. He has done fantastic things at this club and I am trying to create my own bit of history here. I just want to continue improving and developing as a manager and do the right job.
"He was one of the first managers to really concentrate on the manmanagement issue. Whenever managers like Steve or Sir Alex Ferguson talk, you listen. He has been unfortunate not to manage at a higher level.
"He was unfortunate at Manchester City, but it looks like he will get back there again. I benefited from Steve's success myself in that it showed …