The wild celebrations that greeted Jack Grimmer’s 97th-minute winning goal for Shrewsbury Town on Saturday were repeated in Shropshire last night. The League One relegation strugglers’ reward for beating Sheffield Wednesday was the biggest prize of all: Manchester United.
The 11-time FA Cup winners may not be playing to reputation at present but a fifth-round tie against Louis van Gaal’s misfiring side will bring the Shrews global attention and a handy financial windfall.
It is a classic FA Cup tie, but the television executives will be debating its merits as tie of the round as the draw also threw together Chelsea and Manchester City.
There are other intriguing ties with Emmanuel Adebayor making a swift return to White Hart Lane with Crystal Palace and Arsenal and Hull City meeting for the third season in a row.
Guus Hiddink, Chelsea’s interim manager, said of his team’s tie: “It’s already a final. It’s a huge game,” but the romantics will head for New Meadow.
Shrewsbury, 20th in League One, were last at this stage in 1999. They have never played United in any competition before but a 2000 friendly ended with United winning 8-1. By contrast, it is the third FA Cup meeting between Manchester City and Chelsea in four seasons, with City winning the previous two.
Arsenal and Hull are even more familiar, the Gunners winning the 2014 final and 2015 third-round matches. It will be the 14th tie out of 16 Arsenal have played in north London, either at the Emirates or Wembley.
Despite drawing the plum tie, Shrewsbury boss Micky Mellon has told his players to focus on Southend – and not United.
“We will focus on what’s important and that’s the next league game at home to Southend (on Tuesday),” he said after the draw was made.
“I’m delighted that we have a game against one of the biggest clubs in the world on the horizon.
“This game should keep performance levels high from the squad because everyone will want to play in that game.”
Peterborough United will be less pleased.
Should Posh win a replay at home to West Brom, they will be away to Reading. The winner of the other replay, between West Ham and Liverpool, faces a trip to Blackburn and Ewood Park for the only tie drawn to take place in the north of England.
FA Cup fifth round draw
Chelsea v Manchester City
Reading v West Brom/Pâ€™boroâ€™
Watford v Leeds
Shrewsbury v Man United
Blackburn v Liverpool/W Ham
Tottenham v Crystal Palace
Arsenal v Hull
Bournemouth v Everton
Ties take place 20-21 February
Peterborough v West Brom
West Ham v Liverpool