It’s fair to say Manchester United and Newcastle have their sights on much bigger prizes than the English League Cup.
Both teams, however, will recognise the significance of lifting the first major trophy of the season and potentially signalling the start of a new era of success for the winner.
Sunday’s final at Wembley is a meeting of two rising forces in the Premier League who will hope to be going head-to-head at the top of the sport for years to come.
Which is why a first piece of silverware could be such an essential building block.
United looks transformed under manager Erik ten Hag, who has guided the 20-time English champions to his first final at the earliest possible point after taking over at the end of last season. It’s sparked talk of an unlikely title challenge. After six years without a trophy, United fans are desperate for something to cheer.
For Newcastle, the wait for a major piece of domestic silverware has been considerably longer — 68 years in fact since they won the FA Cup in 1955. And hopes of success had all but faded until Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund bought the club in 2021, making it arguably the richest in world football.
Newcastle’s development is possibly quicker than some expected and has come without the sort of exorbitant spending seen from other clubs that have experienced sudden wealth. Under manager Eddie Howe, a sound, if unspectacular, transfer strategy has put a team that looked set for relegation last season in serious contention for a top-four Champions League qualifying spot.
It is the League Cup at stake on Sunday, but the final could be a warm-up for much greater challenges between these two clubs going forward.
⚫ Manchester United vs Newcastle (final) (Live on Fancode from 10pm IST)