Five key points around the FA Cup Final

2 June 2023

Five key points around the FA Cup Final

The oldest existing football tournament is about to have its 142nd final (live on 3 June 2023 on Showmax Pro, courtesy of SuperSport) when Manchester United take on Manchester City. Below is a look at all that’s at stake going into it.

Can United protect their treble legacy against City?

When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer poked in the winner against Bayern Munich to secure the treble in 1999, it was a moment that provided ultimate bragging rights for Manchester United fans the world over.

At the time, no-one thought the feat would be repeated. Twenty-four years later, their neighbours now have a chance to emulate them.

With the Premier League season wrapped up with Manchester City defending their title, Saturday’s final would be the second step towards the ultimate trio of trophies before their UEFA Champions League final against Inter Milan.

The good news for United is that they have the opportunity themselves to end City’s dreams. That’s far preferable to having to rely on another team to do the job for you.

The bad news is that this current City side must be the most ruthless version that Guardiola has created. With Erling Haaland’s mind-blowing scoring at the forefront as the fulcrum of a team littered with world-class talent, it’s fair to say that they go into any game as favourites regardless of the opposition.

But no football match is a foregone conclusion and Manchester United will be hugely motivated to stop them.

Pep’s trophy tally on the rise

Just take a moment to take in Pep Guardiola’s major trophy count as a manager.

Three LaLiga titles, two Copa del Reys, three Bundesliga titles, two DFB-Pokals, five Premier League titles, four Carabao Cups, two UEFA Champions League crowns and (as it stands) one FA Cup.

That totals up to 22 major trophies (excluding Super Cups and other once-offs).

It’s the kind of honours board that gets one into the “greatest of all time” bracket. Guardiola’s standing amongst the all-time greats can only really be measured at the end of his career, but it’s a remarkable list that’s been gathered in 14 years as a top flight manager.

The FA Cup is never the most important trophy in his season plans, but it forms a great part of his relentless quest for success.

Ten Hag doubling up in his debut season?

It’s been 10 years now since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Have Manchester United finally found an agreeable successor?

Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho both seemed too arrogantly stuck in their ways to succeed. The job seemed too big for both David Moyes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Ralf Rangnick just never seemed to be in a position to make sense or take control of the operation.

Enter Erik Ten Hag, who has come into the job with an air of authority and has the chance of earning UEFA Champions League qualification as well as possibly two trophies in his first season at the helm.

While there’s plenty of work to do if United are to get right back up to the top of the English game, nothing would indicate a resurgence better than beating a dominant Manchester City side to win a trophy.

City’s dangerous domestic dominance

Manchester City announced themselves as a club of enormous potential in 2008 when they were bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group. Their FA Cup win in 2011 officially ended their 35-year trophy drought. Now, in the last five years, their dominance of the English game is now well and truly set.

They’ve won 10 major trophies out of the last 17 that were on offer. They are now only the fifth English club in history to win three consecutive top flight league titles. They’ve also never lost a cup final in this period.

A treble including the UEFA Champions League would grab all the headlines, but the prospect of achieving two domestic trophies in a season for the fourth time in six seasons is nothing short of astounding.

A rare derby final

This will be the first time that the FA Cup final is a Manchester derby. When you look back at the history of the tournament, having a derby of any sort in the final is quite a novelty.

One would think that there would have been more London derbies in the showpiece game considering how many top clubs are based in the capital but in the last 40 years, Arsenal and Chelsea are the only London clubs that have clashed in the final (which has happened three times in that period).

Beyond that, you have to go back to the 1980s for two instances of Merseyside derbies when both Liverpool and Everton where the dominant teams in England.

This brings an unusual rivalry element that’s not usually seen in the grand old trip to Wembley. While the quality on the field will ensure that the football will be good to watch, expect a bit of hostility to boil over just to make the game that much spicier.

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