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As far as cup finals go it isn’t the most prestigious. It isn’t up there with the Champion’s League final or Europa League final. It isn’t even up there with the FA Cup final.

Through all it’s various guises which have included the Milk Cup, the Worthington Cup and the Capital One Cup it has been used as a vehicle for giving fringe players a run of games, certainly by the bigger clubs, who have the squads deep enough to render the exercise unnecessary.

The effect this has on the competition is to take away the giant-killing days. No longer is it a major surprise, or even much of an achievement, when a Championship club at full strength beats a Premier League club fielding it’s reserve team. At least it could be argued that the playing field is level for once.

The knock-on effect from years of this practice of fielding under-strength teams is that it has now spread to the FA Cup, but that is another story for another day.

When Manchester United take on Southampton tomorrow, it will be an opportunity for José Mourinho to become the first ever Manchester United manager to win a trophy in his first season, (apparently, the Community Shield doesn’t count). It will be an opportunity for Manchester United to win the League Cup for the fifth time.

Conversely, it will be an opportunity for Southampton to win their first trophy since 1976, when they beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final courtesy of a Bobby Stokes goal which was a mere country mile offside.

Claude Puel has quietly gone about his business since becoming the manager at St. Marys having replaced Ronald Koeman when he left to join Everton. Koeman himself had replaced Mauricio Pochettino, when he left to join Tottenham Hotspur. Saints fans may be hoping that Puel isn’t quite as ambitious as his two immediate predecessors who both left for “bigger” clubs on the back of successful spells at Southampton.

José Mourinho has hardly gone about his business in as quiet a way as Puel, but there is an efficiency about his work which has been producing some excellent displays and results recently and has resulted in United being the only team contesting four trophies at this stage of the season.

They will start as favourites even though Southampton managed to beat Liverpool, home and away, in the semi-final. United’s aggregate victory over Hull City was laboured and they ended up scraping through. So, although Southampton came through what was, on paper, the toughest of the two ties, it is Manchester United who are expected to win the game. How this conclusion is arrived at is sometimes beyond the simple minds of the WSA staff, especially considering that Liverpool are currently above Manchester United in the Premier League table!

Still, we should be in for a decent game as both teams are expected to try and win by playing attacking football and neither are known as being particularly defensive, although it is an option to which Mourinho is quite happy to turn if leading with only a little time left.

All we can say is may the best team win.

In other news, just in case you were not aware, Leicester City sacked Claudio Ranieri. They should have done it earlier, or waited until the end of the season. The mistake will prove to be doing it after the first leg of a Champion’s League game which they actually had a chance of winning at home as they are only one goal down from the first leg and have a very important away goal.

Now the general opinion has swung away from supporting Leicester and towards supporting Ranieri. Most people would now be happy to see Leicester out of the Champion’s League and relegated to the Championship, following their treatment of the Italian.

Unfortunately, through their timing more than anything else, they have brought it upon themselves.

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