Alan Pardew revealed not even he thought Crystal Palace could beat Manchester United when he lined up in the old Wembley tunnel to face the English giants in 1990.
But heading into the 2016 showpiece match on Saturday as manager of Palace, he feels United no longer have the same aura of invincibility and is convinced his side can win.
“Our fans want to go to Wembley and win. We want to win. We are not going there to be runners-up,” he said.
“As a player in 1990, I thought, ‘Oh, we might win this’. But, if I am honest, I didn’t think we could win.
“But today, if it all goes our way, I actually think we can win. And this group of Palace players think they can win, too. My team is in a good place right now.
“This group of players have an opportunity to create something permanent – a first major trophy for Crystal Palace.
“It would be good for the club and history for us to win something.
“There’s a great camaraderie within the 1990 group. We are all very close friends. That season bonded us.
“But I would have preferred those 1990 friendships to have carried through as winners. And that’s the message I’ll give to my players now.”
Like Alex Ferguson ahead of the 1990 final, Louis van Gaal is feeling the heat in the Old Trafford hot seat, particularly after a fifth-placed Premier League finish with United this season.
Reports suggest not even a win could save Pardew’s opposite number, while a Palace win would surely end Van Gaal’s reign at the club.
Pardew admitted some sympathy for Van Gaal, but hopes his team can win the trophy.
“Louis is feeling that pressure now but he’s big enough to deal with it,” said Pardew.
“I admire his resilience. I hope his team turn up and play well for him – but more importantly I hope we win.”
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