Whether it’s Carabao, Carling or Coca-Cola, the League Cup is the League Cup.
A chance to blood some youngsters, play your second or third choice keeper and avoid being on the end of a giant killing. Throughout the years there has been some great, and not so great, moments but the following selection are the memories that I look back on with fondness when it gets to these rounds on the fixture list:
January 25th 2010 – Man Utd 3 – 1 Man City
Much more than a semi-final second leg and more than just a derby – it was war.
Carlos Tevez had made the switch to City the previous summer, something that is unforgivable especially after the success he’d had with Utd. The fans spent the last few months of that season singing “Fergie, Fergie sign him up,” so this switch brought with it a sense of betrayal.
We lost the first leg 2-1 and, of course, it was Tevez who had scored both of their goals. It was a different game, we wanted it more – we needed it.
After Carrick scored Utd’s second goal on 71 minutes we could almost smell the sweet scent of the final in Wembley – but the thorn in our side just would not give up… he scored again on 76 minutes putting extra time on the horizon. The tension was building…
But he, nor we, could have predicted the plans up the sleeve of one man, who happened to be in the best form of his career. Plans that still bring a smile to my face.
Two minutes into injury time Giggs crossed the ball and there on hand was that man, Wayne Rooney, to head past Shay Given. The noise from the crowd was deafening and the night and this tie was perfectly personified in a dancing Sir Alex.
A place in the final at Wembley, at the expense of the noisy neighbours, was the final stop in that journey.
February 26th 2017 – Man Utd 3 – 2 Southampton
Zlatan’s day, Zlatan’s Final.
The inspirational Ibrahimovic continued his fine form that season into the League Cup final. His confidence, his presence, instilled belief into the team.
From the 25-yard free kick in the 19th minute that opened the scoring, to his determination to get on the end of the winner in the 87th minute, this game reiterated his leader status.
Having Zlatan on the pitch allowed us to believe that we would win even after squandering a two-goal lead. He was a lion again that day that represented us all with pride!
February 26th 2006 – Man Utd 4 – 0 Wigan
A 20-year-old Rooney stole the show. It was one of those enjoyable finals where losing never seemed possible. It reminded me of the FA Cup Final in 2004 against Millwall. We were expected to win easily but it’s always a relief when you do so all the same.
Rooney scored twice – his first, the only goal of the first half and his second, the third goal of a blistering seven minute spell, making it 4-0.
The only part of the day that left a sour taste in the mouth was seeing Ruud, an unused substitute, refuse to celebrate the win and walking down the tunnel as soon as the presentation was over. It later emerged that he’d had a huge bust up with Ferguson on the bench and unfortunately for everyone this was the beginning of the end for him.
So, who knows what will happen this year but I look forward to the journey… the League Cup is the League Cup after all.