Breaking the stranglehold

Pardew calls on his West Ham side to end monopoly of big clubs by winning today's FA Cup final against Liverpool
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Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, his team's opponents at the Millennium Stadium, are so far ahead in terms of revenue and spending power at present that it is becoming increasingly difficult to compete and challenge for major honours, Pardew said.

"Someone needs to come out and take football away from where it is going at the moment," Pardew declared in an interview with The Independent. "The Champions' League, of course, is accelerating that. Every year they get twice as much money as every Premier League team. We have the opportunity to stem the tide.

"For us we have the chance of winning the first FA Cup outside that group of teams since I can't remember when. When was the last time? You ask anyone in football and it's the same. Someone has to break it and I hope to God it's us."

Pardew also believes he can make a statement on behalf of other English managers by becoming the first since Joe Royle in 1995, when Everton defeated Manchester United, to win the trophy. That was also the last time a club from outside the big four was victorious in the competition. West Ham last won the trophy in 1980.

"Steve McClaren has got the England job and I'm very pleased about that," Pardew said. "For one it sends out the right signals that we have got the coaches here. His CV stands up. I think mine stands up. And there are guys following close behind who are just as good I'm sure. They are all trying to improve and get the top jobs. At the moment they are all held by people who aren't English. Steve McClaren will help but the perception of English coaches is that we can't compete.

"How can we have major trophies on our CV if we are not going to get the chance? It goes hand-in-hand."

Pardew is also making special plans to combat the threat of Steven Gerrard in today's game but insists West Ham will not shy away from their usual attacking style of play and will try to have a "hitter's chance" of beating Liverpool and outwitting their manager, Rafael Benitez.

"We're hoping to come at him in a way that makes it more difficult than he perceives," he said of Benitez. "There are one or two things we'll look at from the previous encounters to gain success against Liverpool.

"With the suspension of [Luis] Garcia I'm not sure where Gerrard will play - and Gerrard is the key factor. If you put Gerrard in our team I think we'd be favourites. I honestly believe that. So it just goes to show you how important he is. That's how big a part he could play in this Cup final. So with him being on the opposition we need to take care of him wherever he is."

Pardew said he believes it will be an entertaining final and is pleased to be playing one of the big four. "I'm glad we're playing Liverpool," he said. "The two sets of fans are very similar and it's going to be a great occasion. They are going to set the standard that I hope the players will live up to. Because on Cup final day the game is not always as great as it could be. On this occasion there is a little inkling which says it could be a good game."

Cup domination

Cup winners League finish

2005 Arsenal (2nd)

2004 Man Utd (3rd)

2003 Arsenal (2nd)

2002 Arsenal (1st)

2001 Liverpool (3rd)

2000 Chelsea (5th)

1999 Man Utd (1st)

1998 Arsenal (1st)

1997 Chelsea (6th)

1996 Man Utd (1st)

1995 Everton (15th)