Footballing Weekly: Man United, Newcastle look to cement rise with Carabao Cup win
Both teams have made rapid progress under new managers, and a cup win will boost their charge for EPL top four
SINGAPORE — They are two famous, well-supported clubs who have endured lean times in the past decade, and one of them could win a cup trophy to mark their season of revival on Sunday (26 February).
Manchester United and Newcastle United will meet at Wembley for the Carabao Cup final, no doubt eager to set a marker after taking great strides up the English Premier League (EPL) this season.
While Man United last won the Cup in 2017, the last few years have seen a period of decline for the 20-time English champions. They had not won the EPL since 2012/13, and had gone several high-profile managerial changes - hiring top names such as Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho as well as ex-playing great Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - without replicating their dominance under Alex Ferguson.
Fans were beginning to grow weary in their wait for trophies, and signs did not look good when Erik ten Hag took over this season. The former Ajax manager had to endure watching his side crumble 0-4 to Brentford early on, but he has slowly stamped his authority and know-how on the Red Devils.
And now they are in third place, just three points off second-placed Manchester City, and players who had been laughing-stocks in previous seasons - Fred, Luke Shaw, David de Gea and even Marcus Rashford - have thrived under ten Hag's clear and no-nonsense leadership.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have continued to shed their previous skin as an underachieving club under owner Mike Ashley. Even though their current Saudi-led owners have their own issues of sportwashing, they have undoubtedly made a great decision in hiring Eddie Howe as manager.
The highly-regarded Englishman has built a cohesive, tough-to-beat team which have lost just twice in the EPL this season - both times to Liverpool. They have gone as high as third place this season, and look a good bet to qualify for Europe next season.
It should be a cracker of a Carabao Cup final, with both sides eager to consolidate their rapid improvements. Join the "Footballing Weekly" crew as they look at how these two sides may fare at Wembley.
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