Manchester United look to defend their Carling Cup crown as they clash with the Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Fourth Round at Old Trafford.
United have won back-to-back Carling Cup titles, but in the early stages of this competition Sir Alex Ferguson has always allowed his young fringe players the opportunity to show their ability in front of the United supporters.
Despite facing Barclays Premier League opposition, tomorrow’s match should not be any different, because this competition has become a very viable chance for the United to obtain a coveted piece of silverware.
United met these same opponents in the Third Round last season, and even though they played the majority of the match with 10-men, they still managed to progress through to the next round 1-0 thanks to a Danny Welbeck’s tidy finish.
Despite the winning the match 5-2, United survived a real scare against an adventurous Scunthorpe United in the previous round, and scoreline was a poor reflection of the match.
With Sir Alex Ferguson the most notable absentee from the match, The Irons took a well-deserved lead through a stunning strike by Josh Wright, but then United rattled off five straight goals to eventually escape Glanford Park with a win.
Darron Gibson, Chris Smalling, Michael Owen(2) and Ji-Sung Park all found the back of the Scunthorpe net, but United supporter, Martyn Woolford, pulled a goal back in stoppage-time for the home side.
This will be the third match in the competition for Wolves as they have already knocked out both Southend United and Notts County 2-1 and 4-2, respectively.
However, both of those matches against teams from the third and fourth tier of English football had to be decided in extra-time, which is something that United will hopefully avoid.
Although Wolverhampton has advanced to the Fourth Round, they have not endured a very good start to their 2010/11 season.
Mick McCarthy has been at Wolves for over four years, which makes him the fifth longest tenured manager in the Premier League behind Ferguson, Arsene Wenger (Arsenal), David Moyes (Everton) and Tony Pulis (Stoke City).
Last season, McCarthy was said to have done United a favor by playing his reserve players in the 2-0 in the Premier League, and was fined £25,000 for doing so, but he laughed all the way to the bank.
Because that decision helped rest his players during the difficult month in December for more critical matches, and it ultimately secured Wolves’ status in the top-flight this season.
However, after nine matches played this season, the Midlands club is in the relegation zone after they have only secured six points from a possible 27.
The simple reason for this is that Wolves has a troubling time of finding the back of the net, and Wolves are tied for the second fewest amount of goals scored this season with eight, which is less than a goal per game.
Matthew Jarvis, Steven Fletcher and former United youngster, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, are the club’s joint leading scorers with two goals apiece.
Their most expensive signing ever, Kevin Doyle, has yet to open his Premier League account, but he did score the decisive goals against Notts County.
It has been rumored that Michael Owen has recovered from his hamstring injury and will be in contention to face Wolves.
The United No. 7 has scored three goals this season, so, if he is fit, it will be vital for him to put in a good performance to get a look by the manager in the future.
Manchester United has come to put a real value on the Carling Cup in recent season, so there is no doubt that they will continue with that mindset against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Out: A. Valencia (leg), R. Giggs (hamstring), W. Rooney (ankle), O. Hargreaves (knee); J. Evans (hip), M. Owen (hamstring)
T. Kuszczak; Rafael, C. Smalling, W. Brown, J. O’Shea; J. S. Park, Anderson, D. Gibson, G. Obertan; F. Macheda, Bebe
Manchester United 2, Wolverhampton 1