It will not be until a month from hereon that Manchester United will be involved in a league game. Jose Mourinho’side are the only team still involved in all competitions and as such time has to be made to dispatch with Cup duties.By the time the league campaign resumes at home to Bournemouth, United will have played a fixture in each of the three Cup competitions they are involved in.
One of them is of course the EFL Cup final at the end of this month that offers a chance to bag the first pot of the season and what would be Jose Mourinho’s first trophy at the club. For a side in the middle of a transition, trophy success of any kind cannot be taken for granted.
Cup competitions were very much the bread and butter of the team in the 70s when the club struggled to come to terms with the departure of Sir Matt. It allowed for a restoration of pride at a time when the league title was seemingly beyond the managerial means of the club.
Since Sir Alex retired, United have scratched one major itch by lifting the first gong in the post Sir Alex era. Last season’s FA Cup win was the highlight of an otherwise dour season. Whilst this campaign has been anything but dour, the league title remains more than an arm’s length away from United, largely because the team is a couple of tweaks away from being the title challenging machine that their creativity deserves.
|Martial celebrates United’s second on Saturday|
The depth of the squad has allowed United the much needed bonus of long Cup runs in all competitions. Importantly, it has given the club more than one way of turning the season into a success. Whilst beating a very organised Southampton in a Cup final will not be a walk in the park, United will be favourites to do just that. St. Etienne in the Europa League is a draw that the club will be expected to negotiate to make the last 16 of the competition whilst Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup is another that the team should be able to overcome for a place in the last eight of the competition.
The opportunity is there to combine a decent league finish with at least a couple of pots. That would certainly equate to a job well done this year. Fans do care about trophies regardless of the public prejudices about the ‘importance’ of certain Cups. Given the average age of United’s squad, it is important that the lads get into the habit of lifting trophies. The FA Cup triumph last year was a good start. We’ll need to build on that this year.