The Inside Track: Manchester United

By SFC Media time Fri 24 Feb Man Utd vs Saints
Photo by Reuters

Ahead of the EFL Cup final, we get the lowdown on Southampton's opponents from Manchester Evening News reporter Stuart Mathieson...

How important is this final for José Mourinho and Manchester United?

A first trophy in whatever competition is key. The League Cup is the competition that kick-started it all for Mourinho in England, at Chelsea in 2005.

Getting that trophy-winning mentality cannot be underestimated. If United can win, it would rubber-stamp the building blocks that Mourinho's creating.

What sort of shape are United in, heading into this game?

Form-wise, it couldn't really be better for them at the moment.

There is a shape and a purpose about his team now, and they have only lost once in 25 games across all competitions, so they are looking both solid at the back and dangerous going forward.

Have United changed much from when the teams met back at the start of the season?

Mourinho's strongest side from that 2-0 win has not altered that much, and Zlatan Ibrahimović is still scoring, like he was that night at Old Trafford!

But United are certainly a quicker, slicker and more creative side now than they were then.

What sort of a style of play and system would you expect to see from them?

Generally, it’s a 4-4-1-1 formation that Mourinho plays, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Juan Mata behind Ibrahimović.

Of course, there is a doubt over Mkhitaryan now, after his injury against Saint-Etienne on Wednesday, but Mata is still in splendid form.

Who else would you expect to be key for United on Sunday?

Ibrahimović is obviously the real key figure for them.

United have won games when he hasn't scored, but you do wonder where they'd have been without him and his 24 goals so far this season.

What sort of a game do you expect, and how do you see it going?

Hopefully it will be an open one. Wembley will suit United's style without a doubt, but the expectancy might be their biggest enemy and Saints' biggest friend, à la 1976!

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