Manchester United and Newcastle will contest Sunday’s League Cup final both desperate for success.
The trophy cabinet at St James’ Park was last unlocked to receive significant silverware in 1969 when Joe Harvey’s side collected the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, and they have not tasted domestic glory since they returned to the north east from Wembley in 1955 with the FA Cup for the third time in five years.
In the circumstances, it is little wonder that this season’s charge to the final has captured the imagination of supporters, only a handful of whom have any memory of those halcyon days.
By comparison, Manchester United’s need remains in its infancy, although for fans who have grown accustomed to honours, the yearning is no less acute.
When is the Carabao Cup final?
This season’s final will be held at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, February 26. Kick-off is scheduled for 4.30pm.
Is the Carabao Cup final on TV?
Yes. It will be live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event.
The key talking points
Can Newcastle end long wait for silverware?
It is 24 years since the Magpies last lined up in a major cup final – a 2-0 defeat to Sunday’s opponents in the 1999 FA Cup final. It has been a long wait for the success-starved Geordies, who have not added a major trophy to their cabinet since lifting the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969. An end to that drought this weekend would turn a memorable campaign into an unforgettable one.
Can Man Utd end relative trophy drought?
Many clubs would be pretty happy to have won a major competition as recently as 2017, but United are a different beast. The Old Trafford giants have not lifted a trophy since Jose Mourinho led them to Europa League glory, meaning the club are enduring their worst trophy drought for 40 years. They lost the 2018 FA Cup and 2021 Europa League finals in the six years since that win in Stockholm, meaning their 10th League Cup final means much more than their last triumph in the competition against Southampton in 2017. Furthermore, there is hope that the first trophy of impressive manager Erik ten Hag’s reign could kickstart an era of success.
Can Howe establish himself as Newcastle hero?
Earlier this month Eddie Howe received a hero’s welcome on his first return to Bournemouth, where he spent a combined 22 years as player and then manager before leaving for good in 2020. The 45-year-old is the greatest manager in the Cherries’ history, having guided them from League Two to the Premier League, and now has the chance to put himself among the St James’ Park greats. Sir Bobby Robson and Kevin Keegan were unable to cap their successful spells in charge with a trophy, but Howe has the chance to do that on Sunday with a victory under the arch.
Boys from Brazil prepare to battle
Both sides boast Brazilians who could decide Sunday’s final. Joelinton looked an expensive flop during his early years at St James’ Park, but the move into midfield proved inspired and has led to him becoming a key cog in a side in which compatriot Bruno Guimaraes is the star. The popular 25-year-old’s midfield battle with international team-mate Casemiro at Wembley promises to be fascinating. The final will be the former Real Madrid man’s first domestic match after serving a three-match ban for violent conduct, while Guimaraes has not played since being sent off for a shocking tackle in the semi-final second-leg win against Southampton last month. United also have fit-again Antony and Fred to call upon – two more Brazil stars ready to light up Wembley.
Can Karius fill void left by Pope?
Nick Pope has proved an inspired signing for the Magpies, but the goalkeeper will be forced to watch the final from the stands, having been dismissed during Saturday’s 2-0 Premier League defeat by Liverpool for handling outside his area. It is a crushing blow compounded from a Newcastle perspective by the fact back-up Martin Dubravka is cup-tied, having played twice in the Carabao Cup during a loan spell at Old Trafford earlier in the season. It is likely to mean a first competitive appearance in two years for Loris Karius, perhaps best remembered for the goals he conceded in former club Liverpool’s 3-1 Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid in 2018 on what proved to be his final outing for the Reds. Boss Howe has urged the German goalkeeper to “rewrite the story of his career”.
What were the results in the semi-finals?
Who are the latest odds?
Manchester United 4/6
Newcastle United 32/21
Odds up to date as of February 23