Euro 2020 Special
 

League Cup Final Review: Man United Win First Trophy under Ten Hag

Introduction

Manchester United have won the 2023 League Cup – known for sponsorship reasons as the Carabao Cup.

They beat Newcastle United in the final at Wembley thanks to two first-half goals which came in quick succession.

It means a first trophy under new manager Erik ten Hag, but, for Newcastle, their long wait for silverware continues. Although they competed throughout, they were out-muscled on the pitch and created few meaningful chances.

Ten Hag inherited a side in some disarray, but he has imposed his style and discipline on the side, which may not be finished just yet this season, as they are still in the hunt for three other trophies.

 

Match recap

Newcastle began brightly, with Allan Saint-Maximin a threat on the left wing and soliciting an early booking for Diogo Dalot.

However, they went behind in the 33rd minute when United won a free kick on the left. Luke Shaw sent in an inviting delivery and Casemiro got ahead of his marker to score with a fine header. Six minutes later it was two, with Wout Weghorst driving forward and passing the ball to Marcus Rashford whose shot deflected off Sven Botman past the Newcastle keeper. It was later classed as an own goal.

Although Newcastle continued to press forward and created several threatening situation, they lacked end product on the day, with arguably their best effort a long-range effort from substitute Jacob Murphy that David de Gea could only watch swerve past his post.

In fact, United could have scored more, but for some poor finishing and failure to play the right ball on the counter-attack.

 

Trophy drought

Whilst it had been six years since Manchester United last won a trophy, Newcastle’s wait for major silverware has been much longer, the club not having won anything of significance since the Fairs Cup (a forerunner of the Europa League) in 1969.

That wait will now be extended for another season at least, as they have already been knocked out of the FA Cup.

Their long-suffering supporters, though, will be hoping that it is not too long before they are back at Wembley again, Now owned by a Saudi-backed consortium that makes them, on paper at least, the richest club in the world, they have the ability to spend significantly in the transfer window and will be looking to add judiciously to their squad when the transfer window opens again.

 

Karius performs creditably

No blame for the Newcastle defeat can be attached to Loris Karius, despite the fact that the German goalkeeper was playing his first game for the club. Drafted in after first-choice Nick Pope was suspended, and his replacement Martin Dubravka cup-tied, Karius had barely played for two years.

And he is best remembered by English fans as the goalkeeper who gifted Real Madrid two goals in the Champions League final of 2018 whilst playing for Liverpool.

However, he performed well on the afternoon, could do nothing about either goals and produced several fine saves to keep the score down in the second half.

He may well have proved a few doubters wrong – enough to earn him a contract somewhere with a new club.

 

Ten Hag’s Transformative Effect

When ten Hag took the United job, the club were in some disarray, following the end of the reign of Ole Gunnar Solsksjaer and the rudderless period under interim coach Ralf Rangnick.

But, helped by shrewd acquisitions like Casemiro and Argentine defender Lisandro Martínez, he has stamped his authority on the club, showing his ruthless side with the way that he dealt with the Cristiano Ronaldo situation, and by the way that he has consigned club captain Harry Maguire to the role of bit part player.

Players like Marcus Rashford appear rejuvenated under the Dutchman, and there will also be hopes that Jadon Sancho has now gotten over his off-the-field problems and is ready to start justifying his price fee at last.

And all that is against the uncertainty about the club’s future, and the proposed sale.

Two preferred bidders have been announced, but the latest news is that the Glazer family could yet retain an ownership position. Joel Glazer made a rare appearance in the Directors Box at Wembley on Sunday.

 

Chase for four trophies

Having already got their hands on the League Cup, United are still in the hunt for more silverware.

They face an FA Cup Fifth Round tie at home to West Ham on Wednesday, and have been drawn against the Spanish side Real Betis in the last 16 of the Europa League.

Meanwhile, they are nine points off the top of the Premier League, by no means an insurmountable difference.

   

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