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United Guns For First Title Under Mourinho



As the annual English Football League enters its 57th final on Sunday, favourites, Manchester United, facing Southampton, will be attempting its fifth win of the cup contested by the 20 Premiership sides and the 72 clubs of the three tier leagues under the EFL.

United last won what is tagged the second most important domestic cup for English clubs in 2010. The club’s other previous victories were in 1992, 2006 and 2009. A win this Sunday makes the club to tie with Chelsea and Aston Villa on the number of victories.

But Manchester United will have the edge over the duo having being runners up four times.

For Southampton too, it is a return to prominence having last gotten to Wembley for a cup final in 2010. That was the final of the then Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for the lower tiers of the English league. Southampton beat Carlisle United 4-1.

Southampton’s best moment in the League Cup was in 1979 when it lost 3-2 in the final to Nottingham Forest. Since then, the competition had witnessed transformation in names for sponsorship reasons.


Till 1980, it was just the EFL Cup as it is this year owing to absence of sponsors. From 1981, the competition had been called Milk Cup, Littlewoods Challenge Cup, Rumbelows Cup, Coca-Cola Cup, Worthington Cup, Carling Cup and Capital One Cup according to sponsors’ brands.

From next year, it will be the Carabao Cup. For United, the game is also an opportunity to earn a first piece of silverware under manager José Mourinho.

Both United and Southampton entered the competition at the third-round stage, due to their European commitments. For Southampton, it has been Premier League teams all the way, while United started off at League One outfit Northampton before taking on top-flight sides the rest of the way.
Both sides will head to Wembley high on confidence, with Southampton having thrashed Sunderland 4-0 away from home in their last outing. United, meanwhile, are in ominous form, having lost just one of their last 25 games across all competitions.
There is no doubt about who United’s main man is, with Zlatan Ibrahimović having banged in 24 goals already this season, across all competitions. The threat doesn’t end there, though. United have plenty of other attacking options, and Juan Mata, with nine goals and five assists, will no doubt be one to watch.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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