TERRACE TALK: Sad to say but for Man U the League Cup matters

There’s something of a tin hat panic mode among Manchester United fans at the moment and I’d like to join them.

Even after a week when we’ve had two solid wins and two clean sheets, United are still far from convincing.

Winning at Villa, who were truly useless and worse even than Donetsk, was Moyes in Continuity Candidate mode. Fergie almost always won there and the Sunday paper back pages were also exhibiting Moyes channelling Alex: “We have got the money and the club will spend. There is no question about that.”

There’s only one problem with that. It was one of Fergie’s favourites and when it comes up it brings a tear to a nostalgic’s eye. But the difference, of course, is that Alex used it when there was actually quite a good chance he was fibbing.

I’m not yet convinced Moyesie, who is famously pious and God-fearing, is much of a fibber. This is not necessarily a good sign. Sometimes you wonder if he’s in a position to know the truth. United’s future spending being a good case in point. There are those who’ve talked to Ed Woodward and are sceptical about the prospect of him relaxing the purse strings before June.

This is the much-mooted Plan B whispered about since a rumoured Glazer summit in September which is meant to have established that if Moyes does not finish in the top four he will be off loaded and the bulk of the annual budget given to the next man.

One way of making life difficult for any forces who might one day seek to ease him out would be for Moyes to lift a trophy. Any trophy. Even — gulp — the League Cup.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so keen to see us win a ‘non-podium’ League Cup tie against unspecial opposition — 1977, perhaps? — but Stoke must be dispatched this week. He’ll then be in a semi-final, smelling Wembley’s burgers and with a fine chance of doing what he never managed at Goodison: winning something. He’d be treading where his patron saint Wilf McGuinness did, twice. The second of those semi-final failures cost him his job and his hair. Never let it be said that the League Cup has never mattered to United. It’s just the League Cup mattering is not something you’d wish to experience too often.

Nevertheless, as the cliche goes, we are where we are. I don’t know a single Red who thinks there’s any chance of today’s European Cup draw setting us on the road to the trophy. And after Saturday’s Gunners’ explosion, I fear many of us cannot imagine even being in a position to overhaul Manchester City this season. For the first time in my life, City actually look truly frightening.

So it’s the League or FA Cup, the two trophies many of us traditionalists have long wished could be rehabilitated to their yesteryear standing of being cups you really wanted to win. This is not quite what we had in mind as the reason, though. Nonetheless, if United win a cup and finish top four this season, I’d be delighted. And a bit surprised, to be frank.

For when Fergie took to the microphone back in May and, in a largely overlooked sentence, warned us there would be tough times ahead for Moysie, he didn’t add “no question about that”. Because he was definitely telling the truth, and I believed him. After all, no-one knows more about the true value of a legacy than the legator.

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