Highlights Man Utd 2-0 Nottingham Forest
Overview after the game
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has informed his players that an appearance at Wembley will be meaningless unless they defeat Newcastle in the EFL Cup final on 26 February.
Anthony Martial and Fred scored in the second half to help United to a 5-0 aggregate victory over Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford.
It confirms United’s first domestic final appearance since 2018 and brings them within one victory of ending a six-year trophy drought.
In addition, Jadon Sancho, a £73 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund in 2021, and Anthony Martial both scored after returning from Ꭵ njury .
It is about success
Ten Hag, who won the Dutch (KNVB) Cup as a player for Twente and twice as a manager for Ajax, has led Manchester United to a fourth-place finish in the Premier League, and they remain in the FA Cup, Europa League, and EFL Cup.
“It’s incredible, but championships are played to win. Reaching a final is not an accomplishment, he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “We want to win, but we must first complete other objectives.” We return to the Premier League and discard the trophy.
“Reaching the final is a tremendous accomplishment, but winning is what matters.
The Premier League is now the primary focus; it will continue in two days. If we are to bring the trophy to the fans, it must first and foremost instill motivation.
“However, I’m not looking ahead at the moment; we’re focusing on other things; a big week is coming up; we have Crystal Palace and then two games against Leeds, and we’re looking forward to these great derby games.”
Luke Shaw, who recently returned to England’s starting lineup after recovering from an illness, echoed his sentiments.
Shaw told Sky Sports, “It’s extremely satisfying, but if we don’t win, there’s no point in going to the final.”
Six Premier League and Europa League matches remain between now and the final as Ten Hag’s team continues to pursue a top-four finish.
However, the Dutchman pointed out that Eddie Howe’s side has one game per week in February and an eight-day gap between their Premier League match against Liverpool at St. James’ Park and the final – a rematch of the 1999 FA Cup final – while Manchester United will have less than three full days between their Europa League quarterfinal match against Barcelona and the final.
“It is obvious that Newcastle has the upper hand, but it is a matter of mentɑl ity and approach,” he said. When I was with Ajax, I played a cup game after playing in Europe, so I am familiar with the situation.
Sancho can regain his top form
Jadon Sancho made his first appearance since October as a second-half sub.
When Jadon Sancho entered the game in the second half, he was enthusiastically greeted by the crowd.
Ten Hag decided to give the 22-year-old a break from United’s first-team environment on 22 October after identifying physical and mentɑl issues that he believed needed to be addressed.
Sancho has had to be patient while awaiting his opportunity, even after returning from a training stint in the Netherlands under the guidance of personal coaches known to Ten Hag.
Before he was replaced by Antony and after the final whistle, United fans gave him a standing ovation, demonstrating their desire for his success.
A warm embrace with Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper, which marked Sancho’s first face-to-face encounter since winning the 2017 Under-17 World Cup with England, demonstrated that the well wishes extend beyond Old Trafford.
Cooper stated, “We converse fairly often, but it was nice to see him.”
Former United assistant manager Rene Meulensteen stated on BBC Radio Five Live that Ten Hag was right to reintegrate Sancho gradually.
“The most prudent course of action was to remove him from the firing line,” he explained. “I am convinced that the body will follow wherever the mind goes.
Now that the team’s stability has improved, his teammates are able to assist him. United supporters will see what Sancho is capable of if he gradually returns to form and performs at his peak.
Ten Hag continued, “I thought it was great that his fans showed him such affection. I believe that he enjoyed his return to the field.
“In Carrington, he has been smiling for the past few weeks. I hope he can maintain this momentum and contribute significantly to the season.”
A unique contest lies ahead
I am aware that in recent years people have argued that the League Cup is not a major trophy, but for both teams and the progress they are trying to make, this is a monu mentɑl trophy to win. It emphasizes the message that both managers are attempting to communicate as well as their desired destination.
They must instill a winning mentɑl ity in the players and the club as a whole, as league titles cannot be won immediately. What better way could there be to start?
I believe that the game will be exceptional. It’s a matchup between two football-hungry teams with exciting offensᎥve players and extremely well-balanced rosters. I make it a 50/50.