Manchester United have won the Carabao Cup after beating Newcastle 2-0. Here is a look at five things we learned from the game at Wembley…
Erik ten Hag ends Manchester United trophy drought
For the first time in six years, Manchester United are trophy winners. Erik ten Hag has ended the club’s trophy drought, winning the first trophy he possibly could have done.
This is a major statement from the new manager, giving us hope for a bright future. There could even be more trophies to follow this season.
For now, let’s just enjoy it. Since winning two trophies in 2017, United have subsequently lost two finals in 2018 and 2021, plus several semi-finals.
The tag of ‘nearly men’ has been shed, with Erik ten Hag providing a fresh start. While ‘just’ the Carabao Cup, this was an objective every Manchester United fan would have grabbed before the season.
Winning trophies is what football is all about. Manchester United have done it, at last.
Experience pays for United
While there has been a long trophy drought at United, the squad is packed with players who do have experience winning silverware for other clubs.
Antony and Lisandro Martinez lifted trophies regularly with Ten Hag at Ajax, while Raphael Varane and Casemiro had done so at the highest level with Real Madrid.
Casemiro had won 10 of 12 finals he had played in his career before this game, and this experience was crucial in this game, from start to finish.
The Brazilian led the way by scoring Manchester United’s opener. He was magnificent all game and was always in the right place, at both ends of the pitch.
There were doubts before the game whether Marcus Rashford would be fit to start, after he left the pitch early against Barcelona. He shook off any doubts and lined up with the side.
Rashford made his impact in the first half, finishing after being put through by a busy Wout Weghorst.
While his shot took a deflection and could be credited as a Sven Botman own goal, Rashford’s contribution to it was not in doubt. Manchester United needed the top scorer to step up, and he certainly did.
Defence wins titles
Manchester United’s revival has been built on a rock solid defence. Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane were outstanding once again.
This is Manchester United’s best defensive partnership since the legendary duo of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Once we went in front, especially 2-0 up, there was real confidence United would see the game out. With Casemiro in front of them too, David de Gea now leads a charmed life in goal.
Considering some of what he has been through, he deserves this.
We won’t stop here
The hunger for trophies among the Manchester United players was a key topic in the lead up to the game. And with one in the bag, we will now go for more.
The Premier League seems a long shot but not impossible, let’s just take that game by game. It is the two remaining cup competitions which provide a better chance.
United host West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round in midweek, and have been drawn against Real Betis in the Europa League last 16.
While we would have taken just one trophy before the season, now we can be even more optimistic. There is so much to play for and this season is shaping up to be a very special first campaign for Erik ten Hag.