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By Gary Taphouse.   Last Updated: 24/10/00 12:35pm

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UNDER-FIRE Crystal Palace boss Alan Smith told more than 300 angry fans on Monday: "I am not resigning. To change me is not the answer."

Smith, whose team faces Grimsby on Tuesday, desperate to avoid a sixth successive defeat, spent more than three hours answering questions from supporters following his side‚ÇÖs dire start to the season.

He arrived with his coaching staff and 18 members of his squad, including new £650,000 signing Dougie Freedman, to a hostile reception. But he assured fans he was doing all his could to arrest the slump, admitting the current situation was "giving me sleepless nights".

Smith told supporters demanding action that he had needed to tackle the problems of poor fitness and discipline.

"We never thought it would be as difficult as it has been," he admitted. "But don‚ÇÖt tell me that the players weren‚ÇÖt paid last year because they were. Give me facts."

And he revealed that he offered recently-sacked defender Andy Linighan the reserve team manager‚ÇÖs job, which the Eagles` Player of the Year turned down.

Asked when he would resign, 53-year-old Smith told the audience, which included chairman Simon Jordan: "I am not looking to resign. I have worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week since I have been here.

"I haven‚ÇÖt had one day off. If the players don‚ÇÖt perform I will change them, but to change me is not the answer."

He appeased the large number of supporters demanding that the club needs to sign a target man, agreeing that the team‚ÇÖs finishing this season had been "crap".

Smith revealed that a move for former Eagles star Neil Shipperley had fallen through because of the player‚ÇÖs high wage demands, while Charlton had refused to allow Matt Svensson back on loan. And Birmingham had demanded £3 million for Dele Adebola.

But he said a move to resurrect the deal to sign Southampton‚ÇÖs James Beattie was "a possibility".

He played the fans a "motivational video" which he said was used to inspire the players, featuring clips of Palace players scoring edited together with clips of rower Steve Redgrave winning his fifth Olympic gold medal.

Freedman will make his second Palace debut against Grimsby while on-loan stoppers Steve Staunton and Andy Morrison will continue in defence.


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