The stars seem to be aligning for Tottenham. A manager who loves the league cup managing a club who craves any form of silverware. The League Cup semi finals take place this week, with Spurs playing Brentford and the Manchester clubs crossing swords once again.
We have four interesting semi finalists on the table. City are the current holders and are quite simply put, a cup-greedy side. They are serial winners that need to be taken seriously. Manchester United reached three semi finals last season and fell at the critical moment each time. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might not need the trophy to boost his job credentials, but would certainly love to win his maiden trophy as manager. Brentford are this season’s magic story. They beat four Premier League teams to reach this stage and earned their title of dark horses. Spurs do need to keep their wits about them, however Mourinho will know exactly what to do against an inexperienced side.
He’s desperate to win this trophy of course. He won the League Cup three times at Chelsea and it was his first trophy as Manchester United manager too. He often uses the cup as the ultimate tactic to win the fans over, a sort of, give-them-what-they-want moment. Trophies are what they crave, and this watered down trophy can prove crucial to players’ confidence.
When you think about it, Harry Kane is yet to win a trophy of any significance. The same goes for a deep squad that is packed with talent. They have been the nearly-men in other competitions, and their Champions League final defeat to Liverpool was hardly awe-inspiring.
Even if Mourinho’s time at Spurs were to nose dive afterwards, his legacy will be somewhat secured as the man who brought them their first trophy since 2008. Yes, it has been 12 long years since they beat Chelsea in the League Cup final at Wembley. Juande Ramos was in charge back then and though he did not go down as a Spurs legend, his trophy win is still appreciated. That was Tottenham’s first trophy win in nine years, so this drought is even longer this time.
Apart from pride and confidence, a cup triumph would show us evidence that Spurs are evolving and Mourinho is building something significant. He’s got that raw hunger and, should they dispatch Brentford tomorrow, they can beat anyone in a cup final.
Picking a winner in the Manchester Derby is impossible, but Manchester United’s performances have been improving. City are climbing the table and are also favourites to win the Premier League at 6/5 but it’s going to be good to see if United have learned from their three semi final defeats last season.
We might be treated to a Pep v Jose Cup final, or a final where Mourinho faces a former club. Yes, of course, we should not write off Brentford, but the feeling is that this is Mourinho’s moment and the world, at least for now, will revolve around the Special One.
EFL Cup winners: outright odds
Manchester City: 6/5 or 1.11
Spurs: 19/10 or 2.9
Manchester United: 7/2 or 4.5
Brentford: 16/1 or 17.00