Time to play up
Andy Gray says the pressure will be all on Pompey, as he previews the FA Cup final.
Last Updated: 25/01/11 7:11pm
An FA Cup final without any of the Big Four makes a refreshing change.
Most people (apart from supporters of the Big Four of course) have complained about the regularity of who finishes in the top four of the Premier League and who's been in the FA Cup Final and won it over the last 15 years.
And I think it's absolutely right that we should be looking forward to a Cup final that doesn't have one of the Big Four in it.
Why should the big boys automatically assume that because they're in it they're going to play in great finals? That hasn't always been the case, and in fact I can't remember many classic finals in the last 15 years.
I don't think the Big Four have given their utmost attention to the FA Cup of late - they've gone into cup matches casually at times and it's only really been when they get to the last eight that they take it seriously.
I think they do look at it as more of a hindrance than anything else at the moment and that probably has devalued the competition a little bit, which is why it has made it easier for the likes of Cardiff and Pompey to find their way into the final.
Having said that, I still believe the magic of the FA Cup is still there, certainly amongst the fans. And I'd hate for the Cup to lose that magic. It's maybe not shining as brightly as it used to but there are other things that have become more important.
That's just the way that the game has gone but I do still believe that the fans feel there's a magic about it and all the fans want their team to be playing in the final at Wembley that's for sure.
And take nothing away from Cardiff and Portsmouth, they deserve to walk out onto the hallowed turf on Saturday afternoon for what promises to be an intriguing final.
As a player walking out onto the Wembley turf prior to the national anthem and kick-off, it's a great feeling.
It's hard to describe but at that time you're very nervous. You're worried about how well you're going to play, whether you're going to win, worried about your first touch and looking for your family in the crowd.
It's a fantastic occasion it really is; I'm not so sure what it would be like now at the new Wembley. I think they probably missed a trick there by moving the players' tunnel.
At the old Wembley you had to walk half the length of the pitch to get to the halfway line from behind the goal and it was a fantastic walk - one of the best you'll ever make as a footballer.
But Wembley is a fantastic stadium and the Cardiff and Portsmouth players will feel 10-feet tall walking out in front of 90,000 fans and it will be something special that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
In its own way there is also pressure on us in the commentary box to get the job done, but I can relax and enjoy the game - it's certainly more relaxing and less tense than playing in the final that's for sure.
I think it will be a tight match, I can't see Dave Jones sending his players out gung-ho and leaving space for Portsmouth to take advantage.
Cardiff have some quality players of their own, so I wouldn't expect them to be negative either, and of course more pressure is on the favourites, Pompey.
Harry Redknapp's team go into the game in pretty poor form, having lost their last four matches, which isn't great psychologically for the players.
But they will have to find form from somewhere so with that, and with the occasion, there is the surprise elements there and Cardiff are more than capable of causing an upset, so I think Pompey will be very nervous.
The burden of being favourites can weigh heavily on your shoulders and it might be that they find it a bit tough against Cardiff who really are in a no-lose situation.
Most people expect Cardiff to lose so the pressure is off and they can go out there and enjoy it and see if they can cause an upset.
So the pressure is on Pompey and I don't expect the match to be too open because of that - cup finals normally aren't!
I'm delighted for Harry that he has got his team to Wembley. I've known Harry for many years now, he's always been one of the better English managers and he's done a fantastic job at Fratton Park.
He saved them from relegation a couple of years ago and he has moved the club on, getting them to eighth in the Premier League and an FA Cup final at the end of it as well, it's been a fantastic season for Harry.
He must have been very close to winning the Manager of the Year award.
As I said, this will be a tight one I think Portsmouth will just about shade it. They are a powerful side and Cardiff are going to find that out.
They're big and athletic and with no little talent in there as well. I just think Cardiff will have a tough day ahead.
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