It didn’t strike me leaving Villa Park that it would be the biggest shock of the third round, but the radio and TV were going mad about it so it must have been, says Matthew Bell.
Fuelled by Paul Lambert’s pre-match comments about the status of the FA Cup, the press had a field day. Each report ended with a comment along the lines of, “Oh, and we mustn’t forget about the winners, Sheffield United.”
They might even allow a couple of words from Mr Clough.
I did agree with the condemnation of Lambert’s statement though. I always thought the idea of playing football was to win trophies, not to finish 15th in the Premier League and win £1 million more than if you finish 16th.
I must be mistaken, and perhaps whoever does win the FA Cup would prefer to be handed a suitcase full of cash than the grand old trophy.
It was really quite surprising how poor Aston Villa were but that could be because United didn’t let them play and were more dangerous in attack when they got the ball. Walsall looked better than Villa in fact.
It was surely Ryan Flynn’s finest 90 minutes too.
It was not only the biggest shock of the third round, but also the biggest FA Cup upset caused by United in maybe fifty years. United beat Manchester City in 2008, Villa in 2005, Leeds in 2003, Coventry in 1998, Manchester United in 1993 and Everton in 1969, but the Blades were at home in all these ties and were at least a division higher than they are now.
With the excellent pub and Thai food beforehand, an unexpected away win at Premier League opponents and stocking up afterwards on seekh kebabs and samosas from this wonderful little Asian shop near Villa Park, it amounted to the best away day for many a year.