Manchester United have been drawn at home to Colchester United in the Carabao Cup quarter-final draw.
This is the best possible draw we could have landed, against the lowest ranked team in the competition.
Even so, we learned against Rochdale that United will have to be prepared for a battle, and can’t underestimate them. Rochdale took us to penalties and pushed us all the way.
The match will be played the week beginning December 16. This comes between Premier League matches at home to Everton and away to Watford, with our final Europa League group game against AZ Alkmaar a week earlier.
Who are Colchester?
They have earned their spot in the quarter-finals. Colchester knocked Tottenham Hotspur out earlier in the competition.
They also knocked out Crystal Palace, and they will head to Old Trafford dreaming, and believing, they can pull off an upset.
They sit ninth at present in League Two with six wins from 16 matches.
One player you might just about recognise is former West Ham forward Franck Nouble, who will lead the line for them.
A reward and a chance
United fought hard to beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. That was one of the toughest draws we could have landed.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the game seriously, and now United are being rewarded.
We are into the last eight, and there will be greater chances to rotate the squad. Young players like Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes, James Garner and Mason Greenwood will all fancy their chances of game time after missing out against Chelsea.
United will have to get the balance right, and learn from the Rochdale game, but the youngsters will get chances between now and the mid-December fixture to state their case.
Looking beyond Colchester
Now we are into the quarter-finals, a real opportunity presents itself.
Winning the Carabao Cup would be massive for Solskjaer and this United side, and show we are moving in the right direction.
Solskjaer winning a trophy in his first full season at United would change everything.
To be fair, getting to the semi-finals in his first year, which now looks likely, is a decent achievement. But we want more than that.
A trophy win would be our first piece of silverware since 2017, and our sixth League Cup. We saw in 2006 how United were able to use it as a launching pad for bigger success. That’s the hope if we get it right this time around.
If we can beat Colchester, we will have a two-legged semi-final before the final at Wembley.
Possible opponents include the winner of Manchester City v Oxford United, Aston Villa v Liverpool, and Leicester v Everton. There are some tough potential ties there, and no easy semi-final ties.
If United are going to win the trophy, we have to earn it, but the chance is there. At this stage, that’s all we can ask for. Getting past Colchester should be a formality, but United probably won’t make it look easy.
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