FA Cup Semi Final Preview!

Last updated : 05 April 2008 By Footy Mad - Editor


Tony Mowbray has challenged his players to write their names into West Brom's folklore by winning the cup.

This season marks the 40th anniversary of the last of Albion's five cup triumphs, when the late Jeff Astle scored in extra-time to seal a 1-0 win over Everton.

West Brom have contested three semi-finals since then, losing each of them.

Mowbray: "If we were to get through against Portsmouth, this team will have a realistic chance of winning the FA Cup.

"If we can get Albion's name put on the trophy again, the little kids who are five, six or seven now will be still talking about it when they are 77 years old.

"They will say they were there at Wembley when Albion won the cup in 2008, and for the old boys who were at the last one in 1968 it would be something very special.

"It would go down in history and go through the generations. A chance like this comes around once in a lifetime and it would be a fantastic achievement if we could do it.

"Cup final day was the biggest day in the football calendar in my family. I think everybody was a Boro fan but the bottom line was that Boro weren't in cup finals when I was watching them.

"The club I supported as a boy never got there when I was growing up, and I didn't bring Boro much luck when I went to watch them at Wembley on the occasion they did get there. I was sat with the fans in 1997, and I was still a player at Ipswich back then.

"But I was a fan as well, so I know what it is about. I know the disappointment of a team losing games.

"Losing semi-finals or finals is pretty huge in terms of the disappointment so that is why Saturday isn't just a day out for us. We want to go there and win."


Harry Redknapp insists he will go to Wembley on Saturday with his conscience completely clear as he concentrates totally on taking Portsmouth to the cup final for the first time in 69 years.

Redknapp, 61, has taken only a short time out this week from preparing Pompey for their semi-final clash with Championship contenders West Brom to publicly discuss his feelings over the personal problems which could have wrecked his career since the launch of an ongoing police probe into alleged soccer corruption.

Redknapp: "It is like anything. When you know you haven't done something wrong it doesn't bother you, does it?

"If I had done something wrong, I would be more bothered than anybody. I couldn't handle it. But when you haven't it is not a problem.

"Sure, I took it to work. I explained to the lads what it was all about. After it happened I had a meeting and told everyone (at the club) what was going on.

"It is just a load of nonsense that has nothing to do with me in any shape or form, and that will be proved. So I just come to work and get on with it.

"If I had done something wrong I would go away and hide, I would want to kill myself, I really would.

"When Newcastle came in it was a difficult week for me, because people were saying I had got to give it a go, and I understood what they were saying.

"I was being told if you don't take on the challenge you will always regret it. Yes, there is that side to it, but we have got a good team here.

"So I thought why would I want to leave it when I thought it was getting better with a club that was going forward? And I was being treated well here so there was no need to go.

"If I was being badly treated then I would have walked away from it. But I was being treated good and loving my time here, so there was no need to leave.

"There have been no tinges of regret. Once you make the decision you get on with your life. I don't go home thinking I wish I had done this or that.

"Now it would be lovely to get to the final - fantastic, the icing. It would be great for the supporters. Newcastle are a massive club but we have got some good players here, so I don't know if they will be above us next year.

"I certainly don't think they will this year."


Goalkeeper Luke Steele insists his preparations for Barnsley's cup semi-final against Cardiff will not be disrupted by the potential heartbreak of being forced to miss the final.

Steele has undoubtedly been one of the players of the competition so far this season and has already etched his name into Oakwell folklore after making just 10 appearances for the club.

Steele now heads to the Wembley this weekend well aware he would be ineligible to face Albion in the final under the terms of his loan deal should both teams progress.

Steele: "I've been asked about it a million times this week.

"I'll take whatever comes on Saturday and try and approach the game come Sunday with the same attitude whether I know if I'm going to play - or not - in the final if we win.

"It's going to be a test but other players have done it in the past and it's all about mental strength.

"Hopefully I've got the mental strength to keep my mind on the game.

"It took a little bit of time to get my future sorted but once it did I was delighted. I wanted a permanent move in the summer and I couldn't be happier.

"Now I'm looking forward to Sunday and as a kid I literally had dreams of playing at Wembley and now it's coming true.

"It's a big game and it's going to be a great occasion, but we are not just going to have a good day out and look good in front of the cameras - we're going there to beat Cardiff and get into the final.

"I just hope everyone is as focussed as they should be to get a result."

"Cardiff know it's going to be a tough game because we've beaten Liverpool and Chelsea as everyone knows, and anyone you get in the FA Cup semi-final is going to be tough.

"But there's no one to fear and you shouldn't fear anyone in football.

"We went to Liverpool and we played against players who have won the European Cup and we went and beat them.

"Then we played Chelsea and we never feared them. We were wary of them but didn't fear them.

"Cardiff have done quite well this season and they've got some good players and I think it'll be a good game."


Cardiff boss Dave Jones has hit back at Sir Alex Ferguson's claims the cup has been devalued by the semi-finals being held at Wembley.

The days of semi-finals being played at neutral venues like Villa Park and Old Trafford appear numbered for the foreseeable future at least with the Football Association having signed a 30-year staging agreement to host the games at Wembley.

Jones: "If you're one of the bigger clubs who are getting there year in year out then it does take a little bit away because the final is the last game of the competition that everybody wants to go to.

"For clubs like ourselves and Portsmouth (who play West Bromwich Albion tomorrow) to go and play at Wembley it is great to be in the semi-final so I'm not going to knock that.

"If you are Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and you're going year in year out then I can understand what they're saying.

"The Welsh people want to go across the border and make a lot of noise in England so there is that sort of patriotism that they have.

"I think to hold the semi-finals at Wembley is great and sometimes when Manchester United take on someone like Chelsea or Liverpool, if you go to one of the league grounds there aren't enough tickets anyway.

"If you can cram 80,000 in to see it then why not.

"I don't really care to be honest. I'm not really bothered who thinks what about the romance of the cup.

"I think this year has proved the FA Cup is alive and kicking and anyone who says 'we don't want to be there, we are concentrating on other things' I'm sure they'd like to be in the situation that we're in.

"Somebody said Sir Alex is only thinking about Champions League and the league and the cup was a second priority.

"I bet if you went and asked him when he lost to Portsmouth he wasn't too pleased with that so I'm sure he'd want to be here because he wants to win everything.

"Anyone that says they don't want to be in the FA Cup semi-final is either kidding themselves or lying.

"It's something that will stick with you forever and ever. It's the first time we've reached this stage for 81 years and they're talking about it now.

"That tells you how big a competition it is to people in this country."