AFC Wimbledon boss Downes says patience is key to FA Cup upset

Wally Downes wants AFC Wimbledon to play a waiting game in a bid to topple Premier League foes West Ham in Saturday’s FA Cup clash.

Former West Ham coach Downes will lead AFC Wimbledon into their second cup clash against the Hammers this term, in the fourth round encounter at Kingsmeadow.

Downes numbered among the original Wimbledon Crazy Gang in his days as a touchline-hugging winger.

And while the 57-year-old is ready to drill home Wimbledon’s traditional underdog spirit, he insists a more patient approach is pivotal to any modern-day giant-killing.

“I think going head-to-head with a Premier League team you’re going to come unstuck nine times out of 10,” said Downes.

“So you can’t go gung-ho: you’ve got to keep in the game as long as you can, and when opportunities come you need to take them.

“I’ve never been involved in a football match when one of the teams didn’t have an opportunity.

“I didn’t see the game but I’m sure even when Man City beat Burton 9-0 the other week I’m sure Burton had a chance at some stage.

“So if you can stay in the game as long as you can, when the opportunity comes, that’s when you might be able to strike and pull off the upset.”

Downes made more than 200 appearances for the old Wimbledon and is often credited with inspiring the Crazy Gang spirit that eventually led to the 1988 FA Cup triumph.

Downes spent two years coaching West Ham between 2010 and 2012, and is relishing the chance to take on Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

“That’s immediately there: we were always underdogs in any game we played,” said Downes.

“Smallest gates, smallest crowds, smallest budgets, smallest wages, smallest stadium.

“Every game we played we were underdogs, even in the fourth division, so every time we went up we had that underdog mentality.

“And that’s just prevalent here now, because it’s obvious we’re the underdogs for this game.

“When you’re the underdog you’ve got to go in with a fight in your belly and that’s what we’ll do.

“I’ve only got great memories coaching at West Ham. I loved my time working there, we had a great season getting promoted, and then we were having a good season in the Premier League.

“So I’ve got nothing but good memories, the fans were terrific. It was a really great time.

“For a London guy to get the chance to coach at a club like that, it was massive. So to go up against them now will be hugely enjoyable too.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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