While Manchester United were cruising to a 5-2 defeat of Scunthorpe with an entirely different starting line up to that used against Liverpool on Sunday, ten other Premier League clubs were dropping out of the Carling Cup. Manchester City were knocked out by West Brom to miss out on their best chance of winning some sort of desperately desired silverware, Liverpool were determined to get to a Wembley final but could not even make it into the fourth round after going out to League Two Northampton at a half empty Anfield while Chelsea, Tottenham, Blackburn, Everton, Bolton, Fulham, Sunderland and Blackpool have all been eliminated.
One of the biggest expectations during the recently closed transfer window was for Manchester United to secure a top class goalkeeper in preparation for veteran Edwin van der Sar’s impending retirement. Those expectations were further increased when Sir Alex Ferguson was prepared to allow Ben Foster move to Birmingham City but to the surprise of many, a replacement failed to materialise with Sir Alex putting all his faith in his number two keeper Tomasz Kuszczak. It was interesting see a report in the Manchester Evening News therefore that the Poland international is now contemplating a move away from Old Trafford despite van der Sar getting closer with every game to hanging up his gloves.
As one who sees the Carling Cup as little more than a mere distraction for clubs like Manchester United, I have to confess that there are also some worthwhile attractions in the much derided competition. Take United’s meeting with Scunthorpe as an example. A combined existence of nearly 220 years has thus far never threw up a clash between the two Uniteds so a little bit of history will be made at Glenford Park on Wednesday night. But there will be far more than a spot in the fourth round at stake for a special Scunthorpe lad.