Date:Saturday February 28 2009
The Carling Cup is not the most prestigious of trophies, that's true. Indeed, Fergie made it clear that the priority was the league game at Newcastle even though United have a more than comfortable advantage at the top of the table.
But you can't argue with the fact that the players who got us here deserve the chance to play against Spurs in the final. It would be harsh on Gibson, Welbeck, Evans and co. if the rewards of the cup run were reaped by the likes of Carrick and Berbatov who barely played in the competition.
And this final is an excellent opportunity. Gary Neville claims to this day that winning the trophy in 2006 set United up for dominating the English game again as it allowed the likes of Rooney and Vidic to taste how winning a trophy feels like. There's an element of truth in that but I suspect that Wayne Rooney would be the same world-class player without that trophy.
In the case of Danny Welbeck and Darron Gibson the situation is a bit different. These players produced fantastic football and showed great promise on the way to Wembley and here's the chance to put the icing on the cake. It will be a sense of great achievement for them if we manage to beat the holders in the competition and claim the trophy because their contribution was absolutely crucial.
I marked out Gibson and Welbeck because the other bright youngsters, the likes of Rafael and Evans have played an important part in the Premier League and Champions League campaigns as well. Welbeck and Gibson, however, were key to our cup runs and both proved that they can live against Premier League opposition. Danny Welbeck who is likely to be deployed on the right wing tomorrow excelled in that role the last time we've met Spurs, in the 4th round of the FA Cup. Gibson was assured and confident in every game he played in his favoured central role.
Now their time in the spotlight has arrived and we'll see what they are made of. If they deliver that will be a huge boost to their career, they'll be armed with self-belief that they can cut it at Manchester United. So for these two this game is no less significant than Moscow was for Sir Alex. Yes, I mean it.
Date:Saturday February 28 2009
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|Man Utd||3||-||0||Aston Villa|
|West Ham||2||-||2||Man Utd|
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|2. Man City||37||23||9||5||+33||78|
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