Manchester United are looking to win their fifth League Cup this weekend when they face Southampton in the Final at Wembley. While Southampton have plenty of tricks up their sleeves and can’t be counted out, the Red Devils are heading into this weekend as clear favorites.
This comes nearly 25 years after United won this tournament for the first time, and, while football doesn’t always take the easy lay-up when it comes to bringing history and narrative full-circle, it would be almost too perfect for them to win this weekend. Yes, it’s the League Cup, and it’s small potatoes compared to the FA Cup or even Top 4 in the Premier League. But it’s still silverware, and if you get this far you have few excuses for not going for it.
This week we look back at the 1992 League Cup Final.
1991-92 was, of course, the end of an era. This was the last season of the old First Division as England’s top flight. After the end of the campaign all First Division clubs collectively left the Football League and formed their own breakaway “superleague.” This season was also the precursor to United’s lengthy dynasty in English football, with Alex Ferguson having nearly put all his pieces into place for more than two decades of dominance.
But first, there was this last First Division season and the League Cup Final. United steamrolled Cambridge United, Portsmouth, and Oldham Athletic in the early rounds. They then met Leeds, triumphing 3-1 over their longstanding rivals, and then saw off Middlesbrough in the semifinals.
While both sides had their share of chances and close-calls, it wasn’t the most thrilling 90 minutes of Wembley football. The mood was tense, as befits a cup final, and the flow was a bit start-stop; brief flashes of intensity followed by long lulls. Plenty of these exact kinds of matches end up finishing 0-0.
But United did just about enough to win the day, with leading goalscorer Brian McClair finding the net in the 14th minute at the end of a turnover and a quick counterattack. (You can see his goal at about 15:45 in the video.)
United finished the season with silverware and the runners-up spot in the last season of the old First Division, five points behind champions Leeds. Not a bad return, all things considered. Forest had to settle for eighth in the table, despite Teddy Sheringham’s best efforts.
This Sunday, 25 years (more or less) since that first win, United will go for their fifth with a win over Southampton. Kickoff is at 11:30am Eastern on beIN Sports.