Gary Neville believes Manchester United already have an advantage over Newcastle United ahead of the Carabao Cup final.
What’s the latest Newcastle United news?
Eddie Howe leads the Magpies down to Wembley on Sunday for the club’s first domestic final in 24 years.
While this has been a wonderful journey, Newcastle’s form has tanked in recent weeks and Saturday saw them lose at home for the first time this season, allowing Tottenham, Brighton and Liverpool back into the battle for the top four and subsequent Champions League qualification.
Still, this is a Newcastle team who deserve trust and faith in equal measure. Indeed, they have stepped up against the Premier League’s top sides this season, even putting in a strong performance after going down to ten men against Liverpool.
If they can find something approaching the kind of form to have taken them so far since Howe’s arrival at the club, Newcastle have a great chance of ending their long trophy drought.
What has Neville said about the Carabao Cup final?
Still, while there are reasons to be positive, it’s hard to ignore Nick Pope’s absence.
The goalkeeper was sent off against Liverpool and will miss the game and Martin Dubravka being cup-tied means either Loris Karius or Mark Gillespie will have to deputise.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Neville said: “I think the toughest position on a football pitch is a goalkeeper. As much as I’m quite critical of them at times, I respect that position enormously. It’s a tough position. The other is to play up front on your own.
“Newcastle not having (Nick) Pope for the Carabao Cup final on Sunday is a blow to them. But it’s a cup final. Newcastle will be desperate to win, just as Man Utd will be. But it has to be an advantage to United for Newcastle to lose such an important player.”
Are Manchester United favourites for the Carabao Cup final?
You’d have to say so.
While they surely would have been anyway, Pope’s absence is huge for Newcastle and is a major boost for Erik ten Hag’s side. Karius has not played since February 2021 while Gillespie has never made an appearance in the top two flights in English football. With Marcus Rashford in such good form, the goalkeeping department is a real worry.
Still, it’s important not to be too downbeat. Newcastle are here on merit and these are the games fans have dreaming about for years. While hardly ideal, there are plenty of reasons to believe.