Winning trophies is ingrained into the fabric of Manchester United, the thirst for success is what drove the club to previous glory.
After years of searching for the identity that defined the club for decades, under Erik ten Hag, United appear to have found the missing link. Defeating a robust, dynamic Newcastle United side 2-0 in the Carabao Cup final might seem like a victory that ended a six-year trophy drought, but it was much more than that.
The red side of Manchester will certainly be in a party mood once their heroes return from Wembley with another trophy for the cabinet, and ten Hag embraces this part of the job. “You have to celebrate,” he said. “In this moment you have to celebrate because it’s not business as usual, it’s not a common day we won a trophy, this trophy means something.
“We have won something and we have to celebrate, but after that point we have to keep going.
“On Wednesday is another game. It’s a big game, and in our perspective, everything is a big game. We have to do everything to win this game, but this cup can be the inspiration.
“This game gives the inspiration to the togetherness of the team, to be better because we can’t be satisfied.”
That is the ruthless, meticulous ideology that ten Hag possesses, the blend between the thirst for absolute perfection, but having the chance to celebrate the successes. It is common to use success as motivation to drive further success, and the Carabao Cup victory only indicates one direction United under ten Hag are heading.
United will not rest their laurels on this victory, the emphasis on using this win as a building block shows ten Hag is always looking at the bigger picture, never satisfied with just one title. The Dutchman highlighted that there is no rest if you want to attain the end goal.
“To know it’s worth to invest, suffer and sacrifice and to give your best everyday to celebrate.
“It’s about glory and honour and if you want to prove something and win, you have to do it.
“It shows something [silverware], that you’re on a good pathway, in a good direction. It’s one cup and we’re only in February, but it shows we’re in the right direction.
“This has to be the motivation, the inspiration to keep going, to continue on this pathway.”
After claiming the first trophy of the footballing season, United are still fighting on all fronts, with a possible quadruple on the cards if things go the Red Devils’ way from now until May. Casemiro, now looking an inspired purchase from European champions Real Madrid, got the ball rolling in the 32nd minute with a perfectly guided header, leaving stand-in Newcastle goalkeeper Loris Karius with no chance.
Rather than settle for one, United doubled their advantage in the 37th minute courtesy of man-of-the-moment Marcus Rashford, as his effort deflected off Sven Botman to leave Karius powerless to deny the Englishman a 25th goal of the season.Embed from Getty Images
Newcastle refused to bow out without a fight, and despite remaining on the front foot in the second period, Raphael Varane then Lisandro Martinez showed their desire, grit and determination to secure the win, with outstanding defensive blocks when under siege in the 68th minute.
These are the types of players ten Hag relies on, the seasoned professionals who have done it all. Varane and Martinez, World Cup winners, Casemiro, victor of multiple Champions League titles. They know how to win silverware, that is who ten Hag wants, now he has a side of winners, and this is how they take the next step. These players have been there and done it, they know what needs to be done.
“Before the game they [Varane and Martinez] asked me about the influence of Casemiro. Martinez, I had him at Ajax where we won trophies, and you need that type of player in your squad. As a manager, you are on the sideline, composed and have confidence.
“It can be your inspiration, but it’s only coming if you do the right thing. You can’t look far ahead, the focus is on the job.
“It’s good to be happy for 24 hours [after the win] but not to be satisfied, because satisfaction leads to laziness, and if you are lazy you can’t win the big games and can’t win trophies.”
Ever since ten Hag arrived at Old Trafford the only way has been up for United, after a difficult start to the campaign, nothing seems to be going wrong. A squad once divided, now united in their end goal of trophy-laden success.
Winning the Carabao Cup, their first piece of silverware since 2017, might just be the catalyst to returning to their former glory, spearheaded by a man who will do whatever is necessary to succeed.
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