Can Man Utd do the double?
Mourinho’s boys have the taste for silver
Manchester United were back winning major domestic trophies on Sunday, when edging past Southampton at Wembley in a pulsating EFL Cup Final.
All the talk before the match was about Ibrahimovic and Gabbiadini, and at full-time, those two dominated the headlines again. Both scored two goals each, with the impressive Italian denied a cup final hat-trick by a dodgy looking refereeing decision. United ran-out 3-2 winners, their first success in the competition since 2010, and that took their tally to five wins and four runners-up finishes. They now shape as the second most successful side, behind Liverpool, who boast eight and four.
United fighting on all fronts
That result was no fluke either. United did not raise their game for the big day. Winning has become a habit once again at the Theatre of Dreams and they finally look to be back enjoying the kind of success they were famous for under Sir Alex Ferguson. Bringing Chelsea legend Mourinho to Old Trafford was a risk – but boy has it paid off!
Next on their agenda is a top-four finish in the Premier League, and a long-awaited return to Champions League football. They go into that challenge on a stunning recent winning run, already boasting wins over the likes of Leicester – which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it anymore – West Ham and Watford, all without conceding a goal. In fact, in eight starts during February, in all competitions, United conceded just three times, with two of those coming at Wembley. So, not the all-attacking side the media would have you believe. They have quality right through the team, from back to front.
As well as holding every chance of finishing in the top-four in the Premier League, their Europa League campaign is still very hot, although we often get the feeling that Man U wouldn’t lose any sleep if they were to be knocked out of that competition, as it’s a bit of a distraction at present.
Nothing to fear in the FA Cup
With the League Cup in the bag, what’s the chances of doubling it with the FA Cup? Well, 6/1 at present, according to the Coral odds compilers, and that makes them fifth-favourite in a market dominated by Arsenal. That is, perhaps, down to the fact that they have been drawn away to Chelsea in the sixth round. Mourinho taking his side back to the bridge and knocking the league leaders out of the competition – it’s not fancied by many.
It is not an impossible task however, and if United were to end Chelsea’s run, that 6/1 price would be cut in half, at least. The Red Devils certainly have history on their side, lining-up as the most successful side in the nation’s favourite cup competition, appearing in 19 finals, winning 12. They go as the current holders, beating Crystal Palace last season, courtesy of a 2-1 win.
Supporters of United don’t have too much to worry about going to Stamford Bridge either, and they lead the head-to-head stats against Chelsea in this format 8-3, with two draws. They enhanced that record by winning two of their last three FA Cup trips to the bridge, including a famous 5-3 back in 1998. Sherringham completed the scoring that day, after Beckham and Cole had hit two each. Fans would love to see more of the same, as would Jose.