Alan Pardew is in a reassuringly confident mood ahead of Crystal Palace’s FA Cup semi-final against Watford at Wembley tomorrow, telling The Telegraph that his players have their sights firmly set on lifting the club’s first major trophy in May.
As has always been the case in this country, any club who reaches the latter stages of the FA Cup are afforded a great deal of media attention in the build-up to the show-piece matches and we at Palace have proved to be no different over the last few days.
For Pardew, England’s biggest domestic cup competition will always hold special memories, having been the place where he first forced his way into the collective consciousness of our country’s casual football fan when scoring the decisive goal in our 1990 semi-final triumph over Liverpool; a subject he will draw from when preparing his players for tomorrow’s clash with the Hornets.
Having witnessed the dramatic impact that cup run had on our fan-base, both numerically and mentally, the gaffer, with the help of sports psychologist Jeremy Snape has been preparing our players as delicately as he can over the last week or so, in a bid to ensure that we are fully primed to explode our of the blocks by the time the first whistle sounds at Wembley tomorrow afternoon.
The FA Cup was something that Pardew was perceived to care very little about during his time as manager of Newcastle, but during his time in the dugout at Selhurst Park, he has done nothing but build the importance of the competition up in the minds of our supporters; an interesting contradiction in approaches, which on the face of things, surely points towards a difference of opinion with Mike Ashley during his stint on Tyneside rather than a categorical shift in his personal opinion since the start of 2015.
Towards the end of the interview, Pardew admits that he and Snape have been working on an unorthodox method for penalties with the players over the last few days, which, if we’re honest, is enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most positive Palace fan. Let’s hope we don’t need to see what they’ve got up their sleeve.