Carling Cup Final: Manchester United v Aston Villa

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“Wembley!!! Wembley!!! We’re the famous Man United and we’re going to Wembley!! Wembley!!! Wembley!!! We’re the famous Man United and we’re going to Wembley!!”

Yep, we are the famous Manchester United and yep on Sunday we’re going to Wembley. Whatever the occasion, a Wembley final is always special. I’m really excited by this match, who’d have thought – being excited by the Carling Cup… I doubt I’d have said that two years ago.

The final this year is a repeat of the 1994 final where Aston Villa were victorious. I’d sort of erased that final from my memory as I do when we lose a final. I remember vaguely, moments from the game – Andrei Kanchelskis being sent off for handling the ball on our goal line. Did Giggs score our goal, I think he did? I could be wrong. An important note to losing that final – the loss prevented us from winning a domestic treble as later in the season we won the League and the FA cup.

Another little note, which is currently quite apt. In the 1994 final we wore the green and yellow kit which Umbro brought out to celebrate a 100 years since Newton Heath stepped out to play their first game. Now, will the Glazers attend the final? There has been contradicting reports in recent newspaper articles on their attendance. I feel they will attend; it’s a big celebratory day out for them. What about the Manchester United staff day out to raise morale, is that still happening or was simply a PR stunt?  I think it’s safe to suggest we are unlikely to see the Glazer’s attend Old Trafford anytime in the near future.

To the match itself…

For some reason I’m less confident than usual before a United match, probably cause silverware is up for grabs. Normally, Aston Villa have been our gimme team, we have an excellent record against them. However, as most of you know this season has been slightly different, we have only managed one point against the Villa this season.

We comfortably loss the first game at Old Trafford but at the time we were struggling with injuries. Our performance at Villa Park was much better; we were the better team even though we played more than an hour with only ten men after Nani was sent off. Will this give any sort of psychological edge for United? Perhaps a little, but not a great deal. Perhaps a bigger psychological edge is the experience of playing in finals of cup competitions. Our players have an abundance of experience whilst how many players in the Aston Villa squad have played in a cup final? Not many I’m guessing. Will their younger players freeze on the day? Let’s hope so… 🙂

I think Fergie will field a strong team; I’d be very surprised if the team isn’t near enough full strength. Fergie was asked in his press conference on Friday whether Rooney will start, apparently Rooney has been begging to play. Fergie was a bit coy with his answer; something along the lines at selecting Rooney at right-back (he’d be brilliant playing at right back too!) but it’s probably only kidology.

I think the biggest quandary for Fergie will be the starting formation. In the last 4-6 weeks the 4-5-1 formation has worked a treat. However, against Everton we switched to the 4-5-1 formation but struggled. With Paul Scholes playing the full ninety minutes and Berbatov (in decent form) & Rooney being replaced early against West Ham last, I think we’ll start with a 4-4-2 formation – Carrick and Fletcher starting in centre midfield.

I was slightly nervous as I began writing. Now I’m slightly more confident, perhaps its tiredness dulling my senses. I think we’ll win 2-1 now ha ha. It will be great to see… who will be captain? Will Gary Neville start? Will Patrice Evra lift his first cup as Captain? I’d like it to be Gary Neville, will be a nice touch to see him lift at least one more trophy before he sets off into the sun…

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