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Where Palace victory would rank in FA Cup history
Alan Pardew remembers the 1990 FA Cup Final all too vividly. Some twenty-six years ago, Pardew himself scored an injury-time winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup semifinals to send Palace into the storied cup final. Their opponents were Manchester United.
Although the Eagles fought valiantly to come back from behind and salvage a 3-3 draw against Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, they lost 1-0 to United in the replay. Pardew remembers walking off of the podium with his runners-up metal, only to realize he was accidentally handed the referee’s medal.
Much has changed since 1990 but Pardew is still in search of the biggest trophy of his career. Bar the Johnston’s Paint Trophy in 2010, Pardew has yet to win a major title as a player or manager. He came close in 2006, losing the FA Cup final with West Ham United and will hope to finally win the cup at the third time of asking.
Heading into the 2016 final, we have our classic David versus Goliath story. It was Aston Villa versus Arsenal last year, Hull City against Arsenal in 2014 and Wigan Athletic versus Manchester City the year before that. Only Wigan, however, managed to upset the odds and wrote their names in the history books as the first relegated team to win the cup in the Premier League era. Now, Palace face United in a rematch of the 1990 final.
A Palace victory would be of the same significance as Wigan’s 2012 success. In the Premier League era, only Wigan have finished lower in the Premier League than Palace this season (fifteenth) and gone on to lift the cup.
Palace are nearly two-and-a-half standard deviations blow the mean FA Cup winner in terms of points captured in the league in the Premier League era, but Pardew is quietly confident that this might finally be his time to shine.
“For me, as a player in 1990, I thought: ‘Oh, we might win,’” said Pardew, per The Guardian. “I didn’t think we could win if I am honest. I thought we might. But if it all goes our way this time, I actually think we can win. And I think this group of players think they can win, too. Some players don’t get that shot at an FA Cup final. One or two of these players will never play in a final again, so this is their opportunity to get a winner’s medal. We’ve had good meetings about what it means for us all. We’re well set.”