Manchester United’s ‘unstoppable’ threat Newcastle United will be wary of in Carabao Cup final
In what is Newcastle’s biggest games for a generation, the Magpies look to end their 54-year trophy drought when they face the Red Devil’s on Sunday. Ahead of the game, the Gazette caught up with Manchester World writer Michael Plant to get the inside track on Manchester United ahead of the Carabao Cup final:
What has Manchester United’s journey to the final looked like?
United’s involvement in Europe meant they started a round later than Newcastle, and perhaps their toughest tie so far came in the third round when they twice came from behind to beat Aston Villa. After that, it’s been pretty smooth for the Red Devils as they eliminated Burnley, Charlton Athletic and then Nottingham Forest, with the latter beaten 5-0 over two legs in the semi-finals. Marcus Rashford’s form has been key to the team’s success - he’s netted five in as many appearances in the tournament this season - while United haven’t conceded a goal in the last four Carabao Cup matches.
How has Erik ten Hag transformed fortunes after a slow start to life at Old Trafford?
The Dutchman has instilled a real sense of discipline with his players - look at how he’s dealt with Cristiano Ronaldo, Alejandro Garancho and even Rashford - while he’s also shown an approachable side, as demonstrated with his patience and understanding in helping Jadon Sancho. Ten Hag plays attacking football and managed to immediately ingratiate himself with United fans.
His signings of Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro have changed the team, and he’s taken Rashford to unprecedented levels. Most importantly, Ten Hag’s brought winning football back to Old Trafford and he’s shifted the gloom that engulfed the club last campaign.
What type of team will Ten Hag select for the final?
He’ll select his strongest XI and there won’t be any rotation of goalkeeper. David de Gea, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Wout Weghorst should start, leaving a few question marks in the team. A big one centres around who will play at right-back: Aaron Wan-Bissaka or Diogo Dalot? Midfield is also uncertain, with Fred or Marcel Sabizter likely to be selected.
What type of game are you expecting on Sunday?
Tight and tense, with not many chances for either side. Newcastle are well organised and will limit the space for United to run in behind. They’ll also press the Red Devils and make them move the ball quickly. I’m expecting United to dominate possession but find scoring opportunities hard to come back. Oh, and Loris Karius is surely set to put in the performance of a lifetime, no?
Will the game be like the 0-0 between the sides earlier in the season?
It could well be. Newcastle fans will be pleased to read this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they manage to nick it, even with the Magpies’ underwhelming form over recent weeks. The big difference between the 0-0 at Old Trafford and Sunday’s final is the lack of Ronaldo. Without the 38-year-old, United are more fluid, interchangeable and create more scoring opportunities.
Who is the key man/men Newcastle United have to watch out for?
That’s obvious at the moment… Rashford has been simply unstoppable since the World Cup. Under Ten Hag, he’s transitioned from an inconsistent attacker to one who guarantees goals - if he gets a decent scoring opportunity on Sunday expect him to tuck it home. Rashford even looks faster, and he’s been skipping past defenders for fun. Another player Newcastle need to be wary of is Casemiro; he’s back from a three-match suspension and will look to dominate midfield.