Curbs ready to face former charge

As former manager of West Ham United, Charlton Athletic boss Alan Pardew is a familiar face to everyone at the club. But Alan Curbishley knows him better than most: Curbs once signed Pardew as a player while he was in charge at Charlton.

The links between the two men and the two clubs will add further interest to an already highly-charged fixture at the Valley tomorrow.

"We were told we could go and get a free transfer, so we went and got Pards," Curbs revealed. "I think he was our third signing and he was instrumental in Charlton's success.

"I remember haggling with him in a pub for £15 a week most of the afternoon before he signed. He came in and got ten goals that season as an attacking midfield player. His influence on the group of players and the way he conducted himself made him a massive part of the club.

"It's quite ironic, the connections between the two clubs. People can look at my connections but Pards' are just as big. He's brought people here on the staff from Charlton.

"I always had it in my mind that he would end up a manager somewhere. When the job was vacant here a couple of years ago I was asked about him by the people in charge at the time and I recommended him. We all go back a long way."

Curbs also revealed he had intended to be at tomorrow's game from the moment the fixture list came out.

"I wanted to go back to the Valley to watch a decent game so I was eyeing this fixture as the one to return as a spectator.

"I said I've always wanted to go back and watch a big game, and this is certainly a big game. I've always wanted to go back and watch a sell-out game with a big atmosphere, and that's certainly going to be the case. I just didn't expect to be watching it in the dugout.

"It's quite unique what's happened between the two clubs. When they drew each other on the first day I wouldn't have thought that they'd both be in the bottom three.

"I certainly didn't think I'd be the manager here and Alan Pardew would be the manager at Charlton. And I certainly wouldn't have predicted the importance of the game in terms of where we both are in the league. But those are the facts and I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be strange in some respects but all I'm concentrating on is getting a result."

The Hammers boss is hoping he can make his return a memorable one for all the right reasons.

"Charlton has been a big part of my life," he said. "I'd like to think I'll get a decent reception. But it's such an important game that we'll have to wait and see.

"I did think I'd go back there one day as a manager in an opposing team, so it's there for me at the weekend. But I can only enjoy it if we get the result - and I know there will be 24, 000 people there who hope I don't."