Pards: Cup final could be our destiny

Having reached the FA Cup final just a few days after the tragic loss of the great John Lyall - the last man to achieve the feat at Upton Park - Alan Pardew admits that fate could well be playing a part in our glorious finish to the season.

"Maybe it is destiny," said the Hammers boss, after seeing Marlon Harewood's 78th minute strike send Hammers through to the FA Cup final for the first time since 1980. "I put that on my notes today, because that is the kind of feeling that we have had after losing John Lyall this week.

"We weren't at our fluent best today and I'm sure John and Ron would have been grimacing at our first half performance, but they would have been happy with the second half display."

"We haven't played well for the past three or four games and I had a feeling we wouldn't get into our rhythm straight away," added Pards. "We struggled in that early part of the game but I thought the players responded superbly in the second half.

"We got ourselves together and played our game - upped the tempo and pushed the full-backs on. The only downside was that we didn't score during that real period of pressure just after half-time and, as a manager, you think maybe it isn't going to go for you.

"But we kept going, and got our goal. And it was a fantastic goal. I was delighted for Marlon. He really has improved this year and it was fitting that he scored the winner for us today."

Looking forward to a prestigious encounter against Liverpool on May 13 in Cardiff, Pards admits Hammers have certainly done it the hard way this season…and will have no reason to be anything other than confident about their chances.

"It's going to be tough - we are up against the reigning European champions - but we can look forward to the game," he says. "We've beaten four Premiership sides on our way to the final and that must be a record - I certainly can't recall anyone else doing that in recent years. So we've earned the right to be there.

"And we will go there and give it a right go. It is going to be another fantastic day out for our supporters and, having reached one goal of securing European football next season, we are now focused on bringing a major trophy back to Upton Park."