Ambrose: We can win the FA Cup

Neil Warnock has banned anyone from wearing long faces at Crystal

Palace despite the numerous problems facing the Championship club.

The Palace manager has ordered an air of optimism to be kept

around the club’s Beckenham training ground despite debts of

£30m, 10 points having been deducted after going into

administration, the club being advertised for sale in the Financial

Times and no one knowing from week to the next how long they will

have a job.

And everyone, it appears, has bought into Warnock’s positive

thinking, none more so than midfielder Darren Ambrose, who not only

predicts Palace can beat Barclays Premier League side Aston Villa

in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday, but reckons the south

London club could go all the way from the ‘For Sale’ pages to


Ambrose said: “We’re not afraid of anyone, especially at

Selhurst Park.

“It is going to be a difficult place for them to come.

Hopefully we can put on another good performance, get to the

quarter-finals and who knows what can happen then.

“If they have an off day and we have a good day, then just

three more good results and we can win the cup.”

That is the ambitious plan but then 25-year-old Ambrose is

not unused to dealing with footballing adversity.

He was sold by administrators at Ipswich to Newcastle for

£1million in 2003, and endured two relegations at Charlton,

ending up in League One.

So when his wife texted him last month as the team landed at

Newcastle airport with the news that the administrators had moved

in once more, he took it in his stride.

“Yeah, it was a hell of a plane journey to go up there to

Newcastle in seventh place and come back in 21st,” admitted


“But we’ve stuck together as a team. I just want to play for

this club and do as well as we can. We were on a fantastic run,

three defeats in 20-odd games.

“But we’ve still got things to play for. People see us in a

relegation scrap but that’s not the way we look at it. A few more

wins and we are in the top half.”

Warnock’s positive thinking is clearly contagious and the

controversial and colourful Palace boss is quick to explain his


“It’s been difficult,” he said. “But we’ve overcome nearly

everything that has been thrown at us.

“A lot worse things happen in life. If anyone comes with

gloomy faces through the gate then I want to know.

“We don’t want anyone coming in with their head on the floor

because we all have problems.”

Warnock has had bigger setbacks, notably when being relegated

from the Premier League in controversial circumstances with

Sheffield United two years ago.

It is an itch he continues to need to scratch and partly

explains why he remains so driven at the age of 61.

He explains: “I’d like one or two more promotions before I

jack it in. I’m not going to get that many more opportunities of

getting into the Premier League.

“By hook or by crook I’m going to get there.

“I wish I could have managed a Newcastle at the top or an

Everton. I turned Chelsea down years ago which possibly was a

mistake but I’ve always been loyal, probably to the detriment of my


“I always get the ‘Red Adairs’ now, which means that if I am

to get back to the Premier League I probably have to take a team


“But on Sunday I bet there is no more exciting game than

ours, because it is my team. That is how we are. Win or bust.

Chances. Crosses. Goalmouth incidents. Ranting and raving. It’s got

all the ingredients.”

Ambrose agrees, although he is hoping it ends up a good deal

better than his FA Cup semi-final for Newcastle against Manchester

United in 2005, when he was on the end of a 4-1 drubbing.

“Hopefully I’ve had all the downers in my career,” said

Ambrose. “Hopefully good things are to come.”