Next weekend sees the first major silverware of the season on the line as Manchester United take on Southampton in the English Football League Cup Final. It is quite literally a match pitting the Devils against the Saints.
United have progressed through earlier ties beating Northampton Town 3-1 , Manchester City 1-0, West Ham 4-1, and Hull City 3-2 (after the two legged semi-final). Southampton on the other hand have progressed at the expense of Crystal Palace 2-0, Sunderland 1-0, Arsenal 2-0, and a two legged semi-final against Liverpool 2-0 on aggregate.
For all the League Cup is seen with lesser importance, winning it does guarantee a place in the Europe for next season (The Europa League), and it will mean a whole lot to both managers – both in their first season at their respective clubs.
The enigmatic Jose Mourinho has already won the trophy 3 times with Chelsea, and takes charge of a Manchester United team of which success is almost demanded by its fans.
Frenchman Claude Puel has only been at the helm of Southampton since the start of the season, having spent his entire management career before this in his homeland, and whilst he is yet to win over all the South coast fans, victory at the home of football would see his name go down in folklore in the City.
The Red Devils have won 4 and lost 4 of the previous finals in the competition with their most recent win coming in 2010 against Aston Villa, whereas the Saints one and only appearance way back in 1979 ended in defeat to Nottingham Forest.
The teams have met once before in a major cup final – the 1976 FA Cup Final in which then second-tier Saints defied the odds and beat United 1-0 – which is still remains the South coast clubs only major silverware in their 131 year history.
The final can be seen exclusively live on Sky Sports at 4:30pm on Sunday 26th February, and for more information please check out the official site here.