Paul Parker

Pitch no excuse for Spurs

Paul Parker

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manager Harry Redknapp said he was not going to use the pitch as an excuse for
losing the FA Cup semi-final to Portsmouth, but as soon as he labelled it a
"disgrace" and "farcical", he was doing just that.

The fact is
that both teams have to play on the same surface over 90 minutes - or 120, as
was the case on Sunday. They swap ends, they cover the same blades of grass as
each other and, in a non-literal sense at least, it is a very much a level
playing field.

Harry can remember how pitches were 20 years ago and especially when he was a
player. Back then, if a pitch was dodgy, you made sure you were wearing the
right footwear. If a pitch was going to give a bit, then you ensured you wore
longer studs.

Was Michael
Dawson wearing long enough studs when he made that crucial slip for Pompey's
first goal on Sunday?

An even
more pertinent question might be: was Dawson positioned properly? Had he
positioned his body correctly, to minimise the risk of slipping over on a pitch
he knew wasn't perfect?

Pompey play
good football and they keep it on the ground as much as anybody, so it's not as
if the dodgy pitch suited their game more than that of Spurs. The pitch simply
cannot be blamed for Tottenham's defeat.

I was
delighted to see Pompey make it to the final. Forget about what's happened off
the pitch this season, they are a side who play attractive football and you
have to say that they're one of the best teams to go down in recent years.

Even though
they found themselves deep in trouble before their points deduction, they were
playing far better football than their rivals and at times were a joy to watch.
It's just a shame what happened off the pitch; greed has cost the club dearly.

I was
relegated when I was at Fulham so I know what how difficult it can be to take.
But I think Pompey were able to put in that performance at Wembley because of
the sheer number of loan players they have in their ranks.

the majority of their squad will no longer be there come the start of next
season, picking themselves up after news of their relegation 24 hours earlier
must have been far easier.

reaching the final now means is that the rest of their Premier League season
has been rendered entirely meaningless. All that their six remaining games will
now offer is a chance to pick up an injury which could potentially rule a
player out of the Cup final.

That will
surely play on players' minds - no one wants to miss the Cup final - and that
is a shame for Pompey fans who may now be forced to watch their team cruise
through to the Wembley showpiece in May. Five defeats to finish off a thoroughly
depressing league campaign is not out of the question.

At least
those fans have Wembley to look forward to, deservedly so, although I can't see
any way Pompey will beat Chelsea.

Once Cup
final day comes around, Chelsea should be playing for a Double, with victory
set to lay to rest the ghost of Jose Mourinho.

A Double
will give Chelsea immense stature in English football and this is now their
best chance of achieving anything like that. I have a feeling Carlo Ancelotti
will not allow his side to let that slip them by.

Pompey fans should enjoy their day out - after all, it may well be a long time
before they have such an opportunity again.

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