Express & Star

Matt Maher: Save the snap judgments, this can still be a Midlands season to remember

We really should have seen it coming.

Last updated
Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins fails to find a way past the Chelsea's Ben Chilwell

Just when the West Midlands’ Premier League representatives were both starting to enjoy such alien mindsets as optimism and positivity, Villa chuck in a complete clunker.

Wednesday’s FA Cup exit to Chelsea was only the second most dispiriting performance and result of Unai Emery’s reign, with the first still being last year’s third-round embarrassment against League Two Stevenage.

On the other hand, there was nowhere near the kind of expectation on Emery’s team back then. A home replay against opponents beaten in six of their last seven on the road, whose apparent crisis had reached the point players’ wives were publicly criticising the manager, looked a golden opportunity to advance.

With Wolves already through, it would have been only the second time since 2015 two clubs from the region had made it past the fourth round.

Alas, it was not to be. Villa’s big chance became a Chelsea cruise and the online reaction was predictably volatile.

We are a long past the point in social media’s evolution where a bad showing can be accepted as a one-off, a bad day at the office against an opponent simply that bit better on the night.

The modern rules dictate every match must have a deeper meaning, each triumph or setback confirmation of impending glory or doom and fate inevitable until the next result sees you change course completely.

A quick scan of Twitter (or X, if we must), Facebook and message boards revealed Wednesday’s defeat to be far more than merely another frustrating FA Cup exit.