Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew says the FA Cup is a “great opportunity” for his side ahead of their quarter-final tie against Reading on Friday.
Palace have knocked out three fellow Premier League teams en route to the quarter-final tie against Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Friday, but have failed to replicate such form in the league and are without a win in 12 games – a run stretching back to 19 December.
Pardew is hoping to win the FA Cup having lost in finals as a Palace player against Manchester United in 1990, and also as a manager with West Ham in 2006.
And Pardew, who managed opponents Reading for more than 200 games between 1999 and 2003, admits he expects his former side to be challenging for promotion to the Premier League next season.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the 54-year-old said: “It will be a tough game. It’s a club and manager I know very well.
“They’re a nice collective unity. They’ve got some good defensive assets and quality up the top of the pitch.
“I expect to see a team that next year will be pushing to get into the Premier League. This year, the cup is everything for them.
“We have a situation in the Premier League that is certainly causing us concern. But this is a great opportunity for us.”
The Palace boss says he isn’t expecting a good reception from the home crowd, having left the club in controversial circumstances by resigning and joining West Ham after the club rejected an approach from the Hammers.
“I’ve never really had a great reception there,” said Pardew. “But that’s understandable given how I left.
“The fans were always brilliant when I was there and that’s all I could ask for. The reception is in their hands.”
The former Newcastle manager also admits he feels sympathy for current Toon boss Steve McClaren, who is under increasing pressure with his side 19th in the Premier League.
“Whatever I say becomes compounded. I feel for him (McClaren) and I feel for the club.”