|Date: Sunday, February 26 Time: 16:30 GMT Event: Wembley Stadium, London|
|BBC coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website|
Manchester United and Newcastle will try to secure the first piece of silverware available this season in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final at Wembley.
Erik ten Hag’s side thrashed Nottingham Forest 5-0 on aggregate in two semi-final games, while Eddie Howe’s side reached their first national final since 1999 with a 3-1 aggregate win over Southampton.
The Red Devils, who are also fighting for success on four fronts with the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League, have not won a trophy since 2016-17, when they won the EFL Cup and Europa League under former boss José Mourinho. . .
Newcastle, who were beaten by Manchester United in the 1999 FA Cup final, will try to win their first major trophy in almost 54 years, the most recent being the 1969 Inter-City Fairs Cup.
Cutlery would underscore Man Utd’s progress
Manchester United travel to London having lost just once since November 6 and following a nine game unbeaten run.
That sequence includes Thursday’s stirring win over Spanish Giants Barcelona, which saw Ten Hag’s side advance to the Europa League round of 16, although French striker Anthony Martial has already ruled out the fitness of top scorer Marcus Rashford it is a big concern.
The England striker was substituted in the 88th minute against Barca and later posted on Instagram an image of himself walking down the touchline looking uncomfortable accompanied by a bandaged emoji.
Having overcome injury problems in previous campaigns, Rashford has been in top form for United this season with a career-best 24 goals. No player in Europe’s top five leagues has scored more than him since the World Cup break.
“Football is probably 95% of your mindset,” Rashford said. “That gives you the baseline to perform. There are a lot of players who have ability, that’s why they play at the highest level. But what sets them apart is the mentality.”
“I’ve been on both sides. I understand the strength and value of this. I’m focusing a lot more on staying in that open space and it’s necessary to win games and win trophies.”
In stark contrast to the negativity and disharmony surrounding their dismal 2021-22 season, United also remain in the FA Cup and have put themselves in a position to compete if league leaders Arsenal or second-placed Arsenal Manchester City, get the Premier League title wrong. career.
A first trophy for the club in almost six years would likely add to the sense of optimism that has been restored by the Dutch manager’s impressive start to his tenure and possibly provide further momentum in their fight for honours.
“The position we’ve been in in recent years and the feeling we have inside the dressing room means everything,” United left-back Luke Shaw said.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve won a trophy. People will say it’s the Carabao Cup, but for us it’s huge. It’s something we’ve been aiming for a long time, to get that feeling of victory back, that feeling of winning trophies.”
Manager Ten Hag said: “It’s a great opportunity to win the silver medal. It’s about glory and honor in football. We deserve to play in the final and we have a great chance to win the cup and we have to do our best to get it”. to Manchester.
“I think we are in a process that everyone believes in. We go from game to game and we are looking forward to the next one. We have to follow that line to improve and be the best”.
Newcastle aim to ‘create a new history’
Newcastle sit fifth in the Premier League, one point behind Tottenham and eight behind Sunday’s opponents with one game fewer and the worst defensive record in the country.
It’s a far cry from their struggles before the Saudi-backed takeover of the club in October 2021, with Howe’s signing and some shrewd transfer deals leading to a rebound in fortunes.
However, as Bruno Guimaraes returns from suspension, they will be without goalkeeper Nick Pope, who was sent off at the end of his 17-match unbeaten run in the Premier League. for Liverpool.
With Martin Dubravka tied for the cup and Karl Darlow on loan, former Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius is expected to play ahead of Mark Gillespie as Newcastle aim for their first win at Wembley since their FA Cup triumph in 1955.
Another small concern for Howe will be that his side appear to be entering the contest during an indifferent streak.
Their last league win came against Fulham in mid-January and the Magpies have scored nine goals in their last 11 games.
“I’m glad the game is here. I think it’s been a tough few weeks for us because it’s been talked about, even though it’s been two or three games,” Howe said.
“We have beaten some really good teams and we have been very consistent with our form. We believe that the power is in our hands and it is up to us to perform at the best level.”
“I always believe that history, for my part, is respected, but we are trying to create a new history with a new team at a new time. We are determined to try and create great memories for our incredible fans.” .
“They had a long wait for that moment and I know, just from my very limited dealings with the people in the city, with the people I see, the love they have for the football club. I would love to repay that love with a trophy.”
‘Wembley is only a place for winners’
Speaking to BBC Radio Newcastle, former Magpies and England centre-forward Alan Shearer said: “I’ll be there as a fan on Sunday, driving to Wembley when you can see the Newcastle fans. It’s the one time I wish I could put the boots again.
“Wembley is only a place for winners. It’s a horrible place when you don’t win. I’ve been there in finals and semi-finals and it’s horrible for the players and for the fans (if you lose).
“I lived the dream, now they’re living the dream, they’re lucky guys. As soon as you walk out of the hotel, it’s a great trip to Wembley and to see the black and white shirts, the cheering, the scarves, it’s just unbelievable. It sent a chill down my spine.”
Former Newcastle defender Steven Taylor echoed that sentiment, saying: “Newcastle have been sleeping giants for years. Going to win the cup will change everything, with the city it’s huge.”
“It’s similar to the Bobby Robson days with the feel-good factor that Eddie Howe has created. He’s put Newcastle back on the map. There’s no reason Newcastle can’t go into this full of confidence.”
Former Crystal Palace and Republic of Ireland striker Clinton Morrison added: “Newcastle are very well on their way. The way they’ve done it has been fantastic. Everyone said Howe was a short-term replacement, he’s given the back to this football club”.
“They defend, they know what it’s like to play for this football club and they have some talented players. I think the game will go to penalties and Karius could well be the hero.”
“Manchester United are playing freely, they feel they can beat anyone. Marcus Rashford is probably the fittest striker in Europe at the moment. It’s going to be a brilliant final.”
Choose your combined eleven Manchester United-Newcastle United
Pick your combined Man Utd and Newcastle XI for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final