The Carling Cup has proven to be, over the years, an opportunity for the bigger clubs to breed its new generation of players. Players such as Cleverley, Welbeck and Macheda have all cut their teeth in this competition. The manner in which the competition is changing nowadays, however, is that the clubs at the top table of English football now possess such large squads that it’s not ony the younger players who are afforded game time. This Tuesday, for example, could see United select a strike force from Berbatov, Owen, Macheda and Diouf.
I wouldn’t for one second attempt to predict what team Ferguson is going to send to Elland Road as it could take any shape. However I would welcome the opportunity to see Berbatov and Lindergaard especially be given a ninety minutes. Lindergaard would do well to get a chance to keep up the pressure on de Gea which will, in turn, raise the Spaniard’s game. As for Berbatov, he is desperate for game time and with Welbeck out and Hernandez likely to be injured for a couple weeks after Cashley Cole’s stinking tackle (don’t get me started! Ray Wilkins claimed that Cole is nice guy. A nice guy who, someone aptly tweeted, cheated on his missus twice and brings guns to work) Berbatov is an absolute class act and an old head and cool feet would suit this game down to the ground.
Another player who could feature would be Paul Pogba. Ferguson’s comments earlier in the season suggest that he has some potential; “We are quite positive about him… He has great ability. He has the pysique and athleticism.” Since Scholes’ retirement much has been made of the need to replace him and, as people who’ve read previous articles of mine would know, I think the immediate successor to Scholes’ thrown is Anderson. However, the future could be another Paul, Paul Pogba. Tuesday, in front of a large, hostile crowd and the unforgiving Sky TV cameras, could give us a hint as to whether or not his potential is close to being realised.
It could prove to be quite a fiery affair as, let’s face it, this is like a cup final to Leeds at the moment. Gone are the days of Leeds’ flirtation with the Champions’ League. Struggling to escape the clutches of the Championship, games like this one is what Leds fans live for. I’d expect them to field a near full strength team with Simon Grayson possibly giving an opportunity to one or two younsters. Whilst United would look to rest players and give younger ones a chance in order to maintain assaults on the Premiership and Champions’ League, Leeds are fully aware that, whilst a day out at Wembley would be great, promotion from the Championship would be greater. And that, there, is the balancing act that Grayson has to contend with. Hero for a day or hero for a season?
Back to the United of Manchester; they, simply, have to win. Even though most fans don’t regard the Carling Cup with much respect it is still a trophy. Ask Arséne Wenger if he’d want to win it and I’m sure you’d get a resounding ‘oúi’!
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