Tonight’s re-run of last year’s final is important to both sides for two very different reasons.
While the eye-wateringly rich Saudi owners of Newcastle may well not have ‘win Carabao Cup’ on the top of their ‘How to Dominate Football’ list, it’s fair to say that the Geordie fans wouldn’t mind any sort of silverware with which to remind themselves of what major-trophy success looks and feels like.
Such is the desire for glory at St James’ Park that a tie against a Manchester United side humbled by neighbours City on Sunday, and an outfit yet to really get their season going, is just the sort of encounter some Newcastle fans would lap up. But with a fixture overload caused by participation in the Champions League, and the knowledge that his club haven’t won a major trophy since way back in 1955, Eddie Howe is refusing to take anything for granted.
“Manchester United are a top team with top players. One of the key tests of any team is how you respond to setbacks. That’s always what you’re looking to do when you’re in the manager’s position,” the Newcastle manager said.
“They’ve got some very good results lately and have won some games late. Whenever you play Manchester City, as we know they’re very, very difficult games.
“When you go into a cup tie, to a degree you leave that form behind. This is a one-off game and I’m sure both teams will be motivated to try and win.”
For Howe’s opposite number, Erik ten Hag, the immediate task (the long-term one at Old Trafford is always to win titles and trophies…) is to try and get Manchester United like a side moving in the right direction. The 3-0 home defeat at the hands of City was troubling in more ways than the simple glance at the scoreboard reveals. After an impressive campaign last year, this season has seen the side look rudderless and without any overarching philosophy.
The Dutch manager, however, is sure his side will come good, sooner rather than later.
“Every single day, there is pressure on everybody involved with this club, but those demands and standards are a challenge which we must always meet head-on,” Ten Hag said.
“While this has not been the start to the season that we had all hoped for, I am certain that we have the talent and attitude as a collective to move in the right direction.
“I believe that it is only a matter of time before we are showing our true selves. It will come, I am certain.”
Stay here for all the team news and action with kick-off at 8.15.