'I'm no management rookie': Portsmouth's caretaker boss on conquering West Ham and going head-to-head with Liverpool and Spurs

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Simon Bassey has assisted in the elimination of West Ham and gone toe-to-toe with Spurs at Wembley and Brendon Rodgers’ Liverpool in FA Cup encounters.

Now he’s eyeing inflicting an upset at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when he oversees out-of-form Pompey’s attempts to claim a major scalp on Saturday (12.30pm).

During 17 years as first-team coach at AFC Wimbledon, amid six promotions there were some memorable FA Cup moments.

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The Wombles recorded a 4-2 triumph over the Hammers (January 2019), suffered a 2-1 defeat to Steven Gerrard-inspired Liverpool (January 2015), and lost 3-0 against Tottenham (January 2018).

Following Danny Cowley’s exit, the Blues’ first-team coach has been put in charge, assisted by Academy lead professional development phase coach Zesh Rehman.

And Bassey’s hoping a third career stint as a caretaker boss can earn a famous win.

Bassey told The News: ‘As a caretaker boss, I had eight games at Wimbledon over two spells. I did well, I was happy with that, we had a 50 per cent win rate.

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‘As a manager, I then went to Barnet, who had won once in 27 games, and we won five and drew three out of our last 13. So I have experience of it.

Simon Bassey had two caretaker roles at AFC Wimbledon - now he takes on the role for Pompey. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.Simon Bassey had two caretaker roles at AFC Wimbledon - now he takes on the role for Pompey. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.
Simon Bassey had two caretaker roles at AFC Wimbledon - now he takes on the role for Pompey. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.

‘Obviously this is a different level, Tottenham away, but I’ve been in the game a long time, I have been a first-team coach for almost 20 years.

‘At Wimbledon we beat Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham, we beat Brendon Rodgers’ Liverpool, and Spurs at Wembley when managed by Mauricio Pochettino.

‘I’ve faced these challenges before and we’ve done lots of stuff in the last couple of days, things I have previously been involved in, to get the players used to how it feels, because it does feel different.

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‘We played 11 v 14 on Thursday because, when you play these teams, it always feels like they have more players than you.

‘Just bits like that can train the players' minds and get them ready for how it’s going to feel. It’s going to be uncomfortable at times – and we have to be comfortable.’

Bassey was present at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night to watch Spurs demolish Crystal Palace 4-0 during a blistering second-half display.

It represented only a second win in six matches for Antonio Conte’s side, while emphatically demonstrated their devastating attacking potential.

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Bassey added: ‘I went to the game and they took it away from Crystal Palace in 24 minutes.

‘It was sensational, but they weren’t in the first half, which just goes to show the level you are operating at.

‘If you switch off, it doesn’t take long, the game has gone, it goes away from you. We understand we have to be laser-focused and have huge concentration.

‘We have to defend well, but also pose a threat ourselves as preservation isn’t a good option, it rarely ends well.’