Ambrose: We can win the FA Cup

Ambrose: We can win the FA Cup

Published Feb. 13, 2010 11:26 p.m. ET

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 Wembley.

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 Ambrose.

"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 thinking.

"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 career.

"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 there.

"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."