It’s safe to say that the League Cup [or Capital One Cup to give the competition it’s proper sponsored moniker] is at the bottom of United’s trophy priority list this season.
Fair to say too, that it will be a chance for some younger players to impress Louis van Gaal and for the club to make right last season’s dreadful exit at the hands of MK Dons. It’s not that long ago that we won this competition back-to-back [2009 and 2010], so a run could be good for all involved.
Our first hurdle is a home tie with Ipswich Town, so let’s set the scene.
- The Tractor Boys finished 6th in the Championship last campaign and have started this one well, too – currently sitting in 5th.
- The gaffer is currently Mick McCarthy, no stranger to regular watchers of the Premier League. He’s been in charge at Portman Road since the autumn of 2012 and is threatening to get the club promoted to the top flight for the first time in more than a decade.
- The Blues skipper on the field is defender Luke Chambers, who joined on a free transfer in the summer of 2012.
- Ipswich Town hold a proud European record that not many clubs can match – they are unbeaten at home in Europe.
Most supporters will think of United vs. Town and immediately conjure 1995’s 9-0 Premier League shellacking. Canadian supporters like myself also associate this result with Canadian international keeper Craig Forrest, who was between the sticks that day as Andy Cole scored five by himself.
In the League Cup, we’ve played the Tractor Boys twice – both at Portman Road:
- In 1971, United were 3-1 victors – with an opening goal from Willie Morgan and two more from George Best.
- In 1997, an MUFC side peppered with academy players [John Curtis, Phil Mulryne, Ben Thornley and Erik Nevland] lost 2-0.
Ipswich sold full-back Tyrone Mings for £8m to Bournemouth in their only major transfer of the summer. He’s been replaced by Dane Jonas Knudsen who arrived from Esbjerg for £350k.
McCarthy has won one and lost five against United while with Sunderland and Wolves. The only victory coming in 2011 at Molineux as Nani’s 3rd-minute goal was pulled back by George Elokobi and Kevin Doyle.
The Blues have nothing to lose and will likely come to Old Trafford to have a go. McCarthy favours a straight up 4-4-2 and has used it almost exclusively this season.
For MUFC’s part, I’d say nothing less than a win will do – and most supporters are hoping for an attractive one at that. I’m hoping to see some of the younger players get a shot – but in Fergie’s style I’d hope he keeps some big guns on the bench in case things don’t go to plan.