Five reasons why Man Utd can win a quadruple: From ultimate winner Casemiro to lethal weapon Rashford

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Casemiro Mikel Arteta Marcus Rashford Manchester United 2022-23 GFX
The revitalised Red Devils already have one piece of silverware in the bag and they are very well placed to add three more trophies this season...

Manchester United's longest trophy drought in four decades is finally over.

After six years of frustration, mediocrity and division, Erik ten Hag brought the League Cup back to Old Trafford to cap a superb start to his spell in charge.

Fellow top-four hopefuls Newcastle were dispatched with relative ease at Wembley, with United never really needing to get out of second gear on their way to earning an efficient 2-0 victory.

Ten Hag's side were far more impressive over the two legs of their Europa League knockout play-off tie against Barcelona, as they put on a feast of free-flowing attacking football, but Sunday's League Cup success served as proof that they can also grind out a result when the stakes are at their highest.

An FA Cup fifth-round tie against West Ham is next up on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Anfield in the Premier League four days later.

Should they win both of those games, talk of a clean sweep of trophies will intensify heading into their Europa League last-16 tie against Real Betis.

United have the opportunity to make history in the final months of the season and GOAL is on hand to examine the key reasons why the quadruple is a realistic target for Ten Hag's relentless Red Devils...

  1. Casemiro: The ultimate winning machine

    Casemiro: The ultimate winning machine

    "Tell them I'll fix this."

    Casemiro's reported message to his agent after United's 4-0 loss at Brentford at the start of the season could one day be etched into his statue outside Old Trafford.

    The Brazilian joined the club from Real Madrid for £70 million ($82m) just over a week later, and that price tag has since proven to be a bargain – even for a man who turned 31 on February 23.

    United's Carabao Cup triumph was a ninth successive major final win for Casemiro, who lifted five Champions League titles among a whole host of other honours at Santiago Bernabeu.

    His brilliantly executed header set United on their way against Newcastle and supporters are already used to the midfielder lifting the team in the biggest matches.

    "It's one more trophy for me and I always welcome it, regardless of the competition," he told TNT Sports after the final. "My history has always been about winning since I was a kid, so here it isn't any different. I'm here to help my team-mates and Manchester United."

    That winning mentality has rubbed off on the rest of the squad and with Casemiro in the starting XI, United cannot be considered underdogs in any contest – he just needs to avoid any further suspensions!

  2. Arsenal's lack of depth

    Arsenal's lack of depth

    Of the three trophies still available to United in 2022-23, the Premier League seems to be the most out of reach for United – but only on paper.

    They are currently eight points behind current leaders Arsenal, who beat Ten Hag's side 3-2 in a thrilling top-of-the-table clash at the Emirates Stadium on January 22.

    That result appeared to spell the end of United's title chances, but the Gunners subsequently suffered an alarming blip, sparked by crashing out of the FA Cup at the hands of Manchester City.

    Mikel Arteta's side then lost at Everton and drew with Brentford at home before being beaten again by City on a Premier League stage, which allowed United to make up some ground.

    Arsenal have bounced back by winning their last two outings against Aston Villa and Leicester, but there is a niggling sense that they are just one or two injuries away from another damaging run. Indeed, Partey's absence proved costly in their 3-1 defeat to City, and Gabriel Jesus is still yet to return from a long-term ligament issue.

    The fixture list is set to pile up for Arteta and his players as they prepare for the latter stages of the Europa League, meaning a first league title since 2003-04 is still by no means sewn up. United look perfectly poised to pounce on any further mistakes.

  3. Lethal weapon Rashford
    Getty Images

    Lethal weapon Rashford

    Marcus Rashford hit his 25th goal in all competitions for United in the Carabao Cup final, with the Press Association confirming him as the scorer of their second goal on Monday.

    The 25-year-old's deflected effort initially went down as a Sven Botman own goal, but he has benefitted from a slice of retrospective good fortune to increase his scoring tally in what has already been his best-ever individual campaign in a United shirt.

    Long-term injury absentee Phil Jones, who has been a team-mate of Rashford's since 2016, was full of praise for the forward while covering the final for Sky Sports.

    "He’s been brilliant and, on current form, he’s probably the best player in the world," he said. "You can see his body shape, he’s strengthened in the gym and worked really hard on himself. The club have worked with him really well. People don’t see the work he puts in after training. I’m delighted for him, he deserves it.”

    The biggest compliment we can give Rashford is that Jones' claim does not feel too bold. The England international is now the man that United rely on to make the difference in the final third. More often than not, he delivers the spark needed to unlock defences and turn draws into wins.

    In the absence of a natural No.9, with Burnley loanee Wout Weghorst adopting more of a target man-type role, Rashford has taken up the job of United's primary goalscorer, and he's proven himself against the highest standard of opposition.

    He is United's main weapon, a consistent, clinical force of nature that defenders are powerless to stop. They simply cannot be written off in any game in which Rashford is on the pitch.

  4. Man City's Champions League pressure
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    Man City's Champions League pressure

    “People say [City should win it], but I always have the feeling it’s so difficult to do that," Pep Guardiola said before the first leg of City's round-of-16 Champions League tie against RB Leipzig. "Every season it’s more and more difficult. We want to do our best and get to the quarter-finals but what is going to happen is going to happen. At the end of the day, our destiny is already written.

    "Sometimes we have been close, sometimes not. Whatever I have done personally in the past or in the future, I am going to fail. Nothing will be enough.”

    These are the words of a man who is feeling the pressure to finally deliver City's maiden European crown. After six seasons of failure, they are being billed as favourites to win this season's competition, and after a 1-1 draw in Germany, they will be expected to see off Leipzig on home soil and advance to the last eight.

    Guardiola's side are also only two points behind Arsenal in the title race – albeit having played a game more – but the Spaniard won't be judged on whether he delivers the club's fifth Premier League trophy since 2016.

    They haven't been as consistent as usual domestically, despite the scoring prowess of summer signing Erling Haaland, and it may well be the case that Guardiola is prepared to sacrifice the title in order to win his fourth Champions League as a manager.

    This inner conflict only benefits United, who seemingly have an easier end of season run than their city rivals, and could soon emerge as the main contenders to overtake Arsenal at the summit.

  5. Ten Hag's tactical nouse

    Ten Hag's tactical nouse

    Of course, the man getting most of the credit for United's remarkable revival is Ten Hag – and rightly so.

    The former Ajax boss is clearly a motivational guru, having been able to get the best out of the likes of Marcus Rashford, David De Gea and Fred, but his in-game management has also been crucial during United's rapid resurgence.

    He's not afraid to make early changes, as evidenced by his call to bring Aaron Wan-Bissaka on for Diogo Dalot at the interval at Wembley, having seen Allan Saint-Maximin get far too much joy down the left flank.

    Meanwhile, the half-time introduction of Antony when United were 3-2 down on aggregate in their Europa League tie against Barca turned the tide in the second-leg clash, with Rashford moving into a central role in place of Weghorst. The hosts overwhelmed their Spanish opponents with their pace in the final third and Antony ended up scoring the winner himself with a beautifully struck volley.

    4-2-3-1 has been Ten Hag's preferred formation this season, but he has shifted to a more orthodox 4-3-3 system at times during games, and has even experimented with a 3-4-3 set-up.

    His tactical flexibility ensures that United are never out of a game, and his confidence when making decisions translates to his players, who have all completely brought into his philosophy.

    Clever rotation has also played a role in keeping morale high, as Ten Hag has been sure to make full use of the squad depth at his disposal.

    The 53-year-old is a transformative manager in the same mould as Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp. United are lucky to have him, and the quadruple cannot be dismissed as a naive pipedream while he is steering the ship.