Manchester United Shows It Is Trending Upward Under ten Hag With Carabao Cup Title
The wealth of Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund has transformed Newcastle United, but the character of the clubs hasn’t changed overnight. Newcastle have not won a major trophy since 1969 and no domestic trophy since 1955.
If the investment continues as it did in the 18 months following the takeover, success will surely come, but it hasn’t come yet: a 2-0 defeat against Il Manchester United in the League Cup final was the fourth cup final loss in the last half century. For Manchester United, this was his sixth League Cup and perhaps the most significant of those trophies.
It has been exactly six years since a United led by José Mourinho and inspired by Zlatan Ibrahimović beat Southampton in the final, which for a club of its stature and history is, in modern football, a very long wait. Newcastle’s wait, however, is much longer. For its fans, a cup final is potentially a once-in-a-lifetime event. Its fans arrived in their thousands on Saturday, taking over Trafalgar Square in a boozy celebration of the club’s re-emergence as a force majeure. If there are any qualms about their Saudi owners’ ethics, they were largely quashed this weekend, although some journalists writing about the dangers of sportswashing were verbally abused outside Wembley by fans reluctant to address the questionable source of their newfound wealth.
The League Cup may seem like an ornament to superclubs, but it can have real meaning, whether for clubs like Swansea or Birmingham who aren’t used to success, or as a gateway to success for bigger sides. This is what Manchester United hope it will be. The improvement under Erik ten Hag this season has been remarkable. This wasn’t a great performance from United, but it was good enough and the difference from, say, their 4-0 defeat to Brentford in August is profound.