Man United manager Erik ten Hag's mission to end trophy drought with League Cup success

Dutch coach's side face Nottingham Forest in semi-finals as they bid to clinch first trophy for six years

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is determined to end the club's longest trophy drought for 40 years as his side prepare to face Nottingham Forest in the League Cup semi-finals.

United have not won a trophy since Jose Mourinho led them to victory in the Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm in 2017.

The Old Trafford giants have since reached six semi-finals in different competitions. They lost the 2018 FA Cup final under Mourinho against Chelsea before Ole Gunnar Solksjaer guided them to the 2021 Europa League final, which they lost on penalties to Villarreal.

Ten Hag has transformed United's fortunes since taking over in the summer and is on a mission to end their six-year wait for a trophy. It is the club's longest spell without collecting any honours since the period between 1977 and 1983.

The United manager, who clinched the Eredivisie title with Ajax last season, said: “It’s the best feeling you can have winning a trophy. I had the luck in my career to win some trophies and it’s magnificent, especially for the fans.

“It’s so great and I think the fans here have some experience, especially the older ones. But now it is a period Manchester United didn’t win trophies and it is too long.

“We are aware of that fact and we have to do everything to bring a trophy in.”

United play the first leg of the semi-final on Wednesday at the City Ground. It is a stadium they have not visited since 1999, when Solskjaer came off the substitutes' bench to score four in an 8-1 victory for United.

“It’s a long time ago (since United played there) eh? But I think we like that – a fanatic audience is nice to play for," said Ten Hag.

“It will be a good atmosphere and I think it will motivate the players and we have to get ready for that.

“It’s about winning trophies, so we have a good opportunity, but you have to go game from game, so now we play Forest, two legs, so focus on the first leg.

“Don’t think further, don’t think further ahead because that will distract, so the aim for tomorrow is win that game.”

United are looking to bounce back from a disappointing week in which they dropped five points from a possible six in the Premier League, losing 3-2 at Arsenal after their last-gasp draw away to Crystal Palace.

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Forest manager Steve Cooper says the club’s history can motivate the current team to create “new moments”.

Under Brian Clough, Forest won a league title, two European Cups and four League Cups.

Cooper said his players can use the club’s history to inspire them against United.

“I think we embrace it," he said. "We try not to (let) it be a hindrance or an added pressure. We want to use it as a motivation, to understand who we are and what we represent.

“I’ve said from the moment I walked in (in September 2021), you can’t get away from the history of this club, and you shouldn’t, so embrace it, represent it as best you can, but in a modern way, in a way that we’re trying to look forward, trying to create new eras, positive eras, new moments.

“I think that’s a good balance. This club is what it is because of its history and we should always be proud of that. We’re really excited about it, that’s for sure, and to put Nottingham Forest on the stage of the semi-final of an important competition is right, and it’s been a long while.

“We’re really pleased to put the club on this stage again and we just want to make sure we do ourselves justice."

Updated: January 24, 2023, 4:05 PM
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