Pards praises troops after final day victory

Tottenham Hotspur may now be feeling sicker than they did before kick-off, after missing out on a coveted Champions League spot, but it is a different story in the Hammers' camp.

For an inventive and industrious victory over Martin Jol's weakened White Hart Lane outfit saw Alan Pardew emerge with a clean bill of health ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final in Cardiff.

And the West Ham manager can now look forward to the Millennium Stadium showdown against Liverpool with a few more selection options than he has had in recent weeks.

"Thank God we've got no injuries," smiled Pards after seeing goals from Carl Fletcher and Yossi Benayoun secure a 2-1 victory and a ninth-place Premiership finish.

"I firmly believed that we couldn't go into this match with a makeshift side, hoping that it's going to happen for us in the FA Cup final itself.

"We needed to take something positive into the final and we were absolutely superb today. Even if Tottenham hadn't have been under the weather, I still think that they would've had difficulties because we were in good shape.

"We owed it to everyone in the league to be at our best and we were great today. In fact, both sides were a credit to the Premier League.

"You have to give credit to Spurs because they were not at full strength or ability and you could see that one or two were struggling. It was their biggest day of the season but it was difficult for them and, unfortunately, the Champions League place went against them.

"Around lunchtime I had a couple of calls to get my opinion on things and now there will be the usual conspiracy theories flying around.

"Foul play? We've been accused of a few things this season but you certainly can't pin that on my players or staff!" joked Pards, who was clearly relieved that the game went ahead, despite Jol's unsuccessful attempt to enforce a 24-hour postponement as a result of the food poisoning bug that had decimated his squad.

"I didn't want to see the game cancelled and my big worry was having to play Spurs in midweek ahead of the final. That certainly would have wrecked our preparations.

"In the end, I didn't have any say in matters - that was down to the Premier League, Spurs and the Police - and we just sat and waited to hear whether the match was on.

"It was difficult for Spurs, who had their problems, but we had to put that to one side, play our game and focus on our own energy levels and what we are about.

"I reminded the players that no-one could have any seed of doubt about pulling out of any tackles because they'd get hurt.

"We were totally committed and I've now got great performances from Shaun Newton, Bobby Zamora, Carl Fletcher and Teddy Sheringham to fall back on."