Pardew tar­gets land­mark sea­son

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Alan Pardew wants to lead Crys­tal Palace to their “best sea­son ever” af­ter Martin Kelly’s FA Cup win­ner meant Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur can­not now pull off a do­mes­tic dou­ble.

Kelly’s strike in first-half stop­page time turned out to be just enough for a 1-0 fifth round vic­tory at White Hart Lane on Sun­day.

The Ea­gles will ap­pear in the last eight of the com­pe­ti­tion for the first time in 21 years, and they will take on Cham­pi­onship side Read­ing — one of Pardew’s pre­vi­ous clubs as a man­ager.

Palace’s Premier League form may have been dip­ping since Christ­mas but Pardew, who had taken his squad to Spain to pre­pare for the Spurs game, was con­fi­dent Ea­gles fans would re­mem­ber 2015/16 fondly.

“We can still have the best sea­son Crys­tal Palace has ever had in the Premier League,” he said. “We can still fin­ish higher than 10th - that was our best last year.

“We can do that and we’re in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Cup.

“At the start of the sea­son if you’d of­fered me that I would have taken it. If you’d have of­fered me it at Christ­mas I don’t know, be­cause we were in a great po­si­tion. That’s the Premier League.

“It’s un­re­lent­ing and un­for­giv­ing. We had a lot of in­juries and it’s cost us im­por­tant points in the league.”

The South Lon­don­ers have only reached the FA Cup fi­nal once in their his­tory, in 1990 when Pardew was a player and they were beaten 1-0 by Manch­ester United in a re­play fol­low­ing a 3-3 draw.

Pardew, who was West Ham man­ager when they were beaten by Liverpool on penal­ties in the 2006 fi­nal, again af­ter a 3-3 draw, was con­fi­dent Cup suc­cess would spark an up­turn in Palace’s league for­tunes.

“Let’s hope so,” he said. “I gen­uinely think it can. I’ve seen it in play­ers. I said to the play­ers in the chang­ing room ‘ you won’t know the ef­fects and the im­pact the FA Cup has un­til you reach the quar­ter-fi­nals, the semi-fi­nal and the fi­nal. Then you un­der­stand this com­pe­ti­tion and the ro­mance of it’.

“That 1990 Cup run gained us more fans than at any other time and they’ve stayed with us, even though we never won it.”

Nev­er­the­less, the stakes re­main much higher for Tot­ten­ham, how­ever, as they are cur­rently se­cond in the Premier League and still in the Europa League.

Spurs have not fin­ished top of the pile in Eng­land since 1961, when they also won the FA Cup, and they will know to­day if they will be left with only Premier League fix­tures to con­tend with, like lead­ers Le­ices­ter.

That is the night when their Europa League round of 32 tie with Fiorentina is to be de­cided in Lon­don fol­low­ing a 1-1 first-leg draw.

“We feel very dis­ap­pointed be­cause it (the FA Cup) was a com­pe­ti­tion that was very ex­cit­ing for us to go far but we are in a very tough pe­riod and ev­ery game seems like a fi­nal,” said Tot­ten­ham man­ager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino of Sun­day’s de­feat.

“We need to be ready for Thurs­day as we have an­other fi­nal. The next game is the most im­por­tant now.”

Tot­ten­ham had been fight­ing on three fronts for al­most the en­tire sea­son but Po­chet­tino de­nied a hec­tic sched­ule, cou­pled with his in­sis­tence on high-in­ten­sity train­ing ses­sions, had taken its toll.

“No,” he said. “Against Fiorentina we ran seven kilo­me­tres more. To­day our ef­fort was big­ger than Crys­tal Palace’s but it is about win­ning or not.

“There is noth­ing to com­plain about. We had good chances to win the game.” — AFP

Alan Pardew

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