‘Advantage Man Utd’ – Neville believes Ten Hag has upper hand ahead of Carabao Cup final

Jason Soutar
Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope walks off the pitch after being sent off

Gary Neville believes Manchester United are the favourites to win the Carabao Cup final with Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope suspended.

Pope was given a straight red card in the Magpies’ 2-0 loss at home to Liverpool on Saturday.

After failing to deal with a long kick from Reds goalkeeper Alisson, the England international grabbed the ball while around 20 yards outside his box.

Had it all not happened in the blink of an eye, Pope probably would have known that was not the best decision to make despite Mohamed Salah being in a position to score for Liverpool.

The red card resulted in a suspension with Newcastle’s next match coming on Sunday, in the final of the Carabao Cup.

It is probably the worst possible match to miss and Pope is arguably the one player Eddie Howe probably would have wanted to be available.

Second-choice ‘keeper Martin Dubravka is cup-tied for the match at Wembley having already played for… Manchester United.

This means that Howe will have to call upon Mark Gillespie or Loris Karius for Newcastle’s first cup final since 1999.

The latter is expected to be the man in the sticks. The last match Karius played for an English side was the 2018 Champions League final for Liverpool against Real Madrid, and everyone knows how that went.

The German joined the Geordies as a free agent last September and is yet to make an appearance for the club. The last competitive game he played came for Union Berlin in February 2021.

Given Newcastle’s goalkeeper situation, Neville has backed the Red Devils to come out victorious at Wembley.

“Obviously having to bring a goalkeeper in, I think the toughest position on a football pitch is a goalkeeper,” he said on the latest Gary Neville Podcast.

“As much as I’m critical of them at times, I respect that position enormously. It’s a tough position and the other position I feel is the toughest to play is actually up front on your own.

“Newcastle not having Pope is a blow to them but it’s a cup final. Newcastle will be desperate to win, just as Man United will be. It has to be an advantage to Manchester United for Newcastle to lose such an important player.

“United play on Thursday night against Barcelona on what is a monumental second-leg of a brilliant game, the return leg from the Nou Camp, so that might equalise it a little bit as well, that Manchester United have other thoughts this week.

“Maybe there’s a little bit there. It’s going to be a really interesting game, I’m going to be there and I can’t wait for it because I think it’s an intriguing story that both these clubs are desperate for a trophy.”

Before the showpiece final on Sunday, Manchester United host Barcelona in the Europa League.

Erik ten Hag’s side drew 2-2 in the first leg of their play-off match last week.

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