Nottingham Forest v Manchester United: Carabao Cup semi-final, first leg – live | Carabao Cup
Here’s a reminder what happened in the first leg of the other semi-final last night. A game packed with much more to pore over than its 0-1 scoreline might suggest.
Erik ten Hag talks to Sky. “It’s great to play such games. A lot of attention from everyone around in the club, everyone is excited, the fans especially but also the players. You feel it: they want to go for the final. It is a big game. We have a strong team tonight. We have to win this game. We have to do everything to win this game. Our players have experience to play big games.”
He also reports that Luke Shaw is ill, and it’s “difficult to say” whether he’ll be back for the weekend.
A lovely moment on Sky as host Mark Chapman, having just quizzed Roy Keane about his time at Forest, cheekily notes that “every former player who played under Brian Clough seems to be able to do an impression of him”, and leaves that hanging in the air. Keane remains silent for a perfectly timed comedic beat – and I won’t insult your intelligence by describing his facial expression – before giving his answer. “I don’t.” Then a quick pantomime glance to camera, before a highly amused smile plays around the corners of his mouth. “I wouldn’t be very good at it. I wouldn’t disrespect him that way.” Tinder-dry comedy. You’d pay good money to have been a fly on the wall behind the scenes at the City Ground circa 1992, wouldn’t you.
Steve Cooper speaks to Sky Sports. “We have to get the balance right. We have to respect that we’re playing Manchester United. We have to play with good ambition, good intent, it’s a semi-final, not often do they come around. We’re still not the team we want to be. There are a load of things we need to improve on. But we have made some forward steps. If there’s ever a time that we think we’re doing well enough, that won’t be for me, we’ve got to fight even harder. We played United away just after Christmas, and we weren’t good enough on the night. We didn’t give a good impression of ourselves and we didn’t like that, so we spoke about that.”
Forest make three changes to the side named for the 1-1 draw at Bournemouth last weekend. Scott McKenna, Danilo and Sam Surridge are in; Orel Mangala drops to the bench, Ryan Yates is ill, and Chris Wood is cup-tied. The on-loan Dean Henderson remains injured, though he’d have been ineligible against his parent club anyway.
United make three changes to the starting XI selected for the 3-2 defeat at Arsenal. At the back, Tyrrell Malacia and Victor Lindelof replace Luke Shaw and Raphael Varane, while in midfield Casemiro returns from suspension to take the place of Scott McTominay.
Nottingham Forest: Hennessey, Aurier, Worrall, McKenna, Lodi, Danilo, Freuler, Johnson, Gibbs-White, Scarpa, Surridge.
Subs: Smith, Cook, Mangala, Williams, Colback, Lingard, O’Brien, Dennis, Boly.
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Martinez, Malacia, Fernandes, Casemiro, Eriksen, Antony, Weghorst, Rashford.
Subs: Heaton, Fred, Varane, Pellistri, Williams, Elanga, McTominay, Garnacho, Mainoo.
Nottingham Forest have won this competition on four occasions; Manchester United five. For both clubs, their last success in the League Cup is also the last major domestic trophy they won, Forest defeating Oldham Athletic in the 1990 final, United doing for Southampton in 2017. In context of subsequent trajectories and concomitant expectations, it’s been a long drought for both. Who will get a chance to slake their thirst at Wembley next month? We’re two steps away from finding out. Step one kicks off at 8pm GMT. It’s on!