Alan Pardew: The man who saved the FA Cup twiceby Andy Dillon / 30 January 2018, 09:31Tweet
ALAN PARDEW should be a trivia question in years to come – as the man who saved the FA Cup twice.
First in 2006 when his underdogs from West Ham – fresh from The Championship – took Liverpool all the way to penalties in the final after a breathless 3-3 draw.
The have-a-go attitude of him and his players that day played a huge role in producing the best climax to the competition after so many drab years.
Things didn’t go his way that day but undaunted Pardew – as it stands heading back to the Championship with West Brom – took struggling West Brom to Liverpool for a fourth round tie.
Instead of taking the easy option by dropping his best players and surrendering a piece of silverware in pursuit of Premier League safety, it was win-or-bust with a strong team.
This time he got the luck he deserves in a fine old competition discarded by managers, disrespected by TV producers and crushed under the wheels of the Premier League but still treasured by the supporters.
The result was a hair-raising, swashbuckling, adrenaline ride at one of the best grounds in the land, albeit on a Saturday night when only 1,800 Baggies fans made the trip because it was being shown live on the telly.
At least it meant those of us at home were treated to a proper showing by one of the ‘lesser’ clubs in the top flight, which hadn’t sacrificed all hope of romance or joy because of the morbid fear of relegation.
Even when the intensely annoying V.A.R did its best to step in a ruin the spectacle with lengthy delays and debates which suit the neo-nerds but remove a lot of the fun for the romantics, it failed.
Pardew had most of his first team out and there was a sense that almost 12 years of burning injustice was finally quelled with his 3-2 win that gives West Brom a home tie against Southampton in the fifth round and a genuine shot at the quarter finals.
West Brom now have two wins and a draw from their last three games.
They remain one off the bottom of the Premier League and can write off tomorrow’s trip to Manchester City – but then who doesn’t?
The feelgood factor of a cup run should not be underestimated and that will be evident among the supporters of West Bromwich Albion.
Maybe Pardew has stumbled across a way to save the FA Cup from total oblivion too. It’s highly fanciful but how about guaranteeing Premier League survival for the cup winners if they need it?
We might find that teams in the lower reaches of the table suddenly start taking it a lot more seriously instead of curling it up and throwing it away like a piece of gum stuck to a shoe.
There is a buzz around West Brom at the moment.
Perhaps it is just coincidence that Pardew has signed a new striker in Daniel Sturridge – from the team he beat - just a few days after the epic Cup win?
I hope not. Sturridge, for all his injury baggage is one of the best finishers in the game when fully fit and functioning.
And West Brom haven’t sold Jonny Evans – yet. Hang onto him and suddenly the run in to May looks a lot brighter.
Even if not then how bad can it be to go down with a final day trip to Wembley?