AFC Wimbledon coach thought Harry Kane's inclusion in Tottenham starting XI for FA Cup clash was a 'wind-up'
AFC Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley said his assistant Neil Cox thought it was a “wind-up” when he saw Harry Kane’s name in a strong Tottenham Hotspur team, as he described their FA Cup third round at Wembley as another “landmark” in the club’s history despite succumbing to a 3-0 defeat.
Although the club won a League Two play-off final here against Plymouth Argyle in 2016, this marked their first return to the ground in this competition since the famous 1988 final victory over Liverpool, and Ardley was able to enjoy a special day regardless of the result.
He also spoke of the enjoyment of going up against a manager like Mauricio Pochettino and how much more he admires him due to professionally studying his philosophy, even if he was surprised by the team sheet.
“No I was surprised, it was a bit like ‘wow’,” Ardley said. “My assistant took the team sheet and when he saw Harry Kane walk in he thought, ‘This has got to be a wind-up’.
“I was very surprised. I will be having a word with him [Pochettino] when we get in there about taking it too seriously!
“I had this question three years ago with Steven Gerrard when we played Liverpool. I said I don’t mind [whether he plays], and then he scored twice. I think it’s good to learn against the best, but you do stand more of a chance if they don’t play. I’d rather he [Kane] didn’t!
“It was [otherwise] brilliant. It’s little landmarks like these. People ask what this game meant to us, and in the context of our season it wasn’t going to mean a lot. We didn’t really believe we were going to go on and win the FA Cup but we’d got to the third round, we’d got a great draw and a great occasion, so in the context of our history it’s great.
“We have played Spurs at Wembley, another visit two years on from winning in the play-offs. And my main feel was that we did them proud, we needed to come away with them saying, ‘Wow what a great effort from the boys’.
“And I feel like we have done that, and it was always my intention now to say that this game doesn’t affect the rest of our season. We use it as a great occasion but it doesn’t affect the rest of our season, and like I say I thought our fans were brilliant today. There was a real buzz about the atmosphere.”