Since taking over at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson has used the League Cup as a platform for regeneration and on Wednesday, the boss watched with delight as his team of senior and junior Reds made capital of the newly-named competition.
Cynics claim the tournament, now under its Capital One Cup guise, has been devalued by squad rotation, but the boss has maintained his stance that young players, or even fringe players, will flourish under the spotlight of playing first team football for Manchester United.
While the Champions League has glamour, the Premier League has prestige and the FA Cup has history, the League Cup has the future. Quite simply, the competition has found its niche and the boss has fully embraced the fact, despite the snipes of any detractors.
“I have players who need games and those are the guys I will be selecting for the Capital One Cup match as we welcome Newcastle United to Old Trafford,” Sir Alex wrote in his notes for the match programme, United Review. “Football these days, as I have been emphasising for some time, is a squad game.”
Mixing age with youth, experience with exuberance, the boss fielded a top heavy team in midweek as six first-team players filled the forward positions ahead of four untested defenders, with just one Premier League appearance for Alex Büttner between them.
Proving right the theory that youngsters not only deserve a chance but will reward you for doing so, the manager’s faith was inevitably repaid as debutant starters Scott Wootton, Michael Keane and Marnick Vermijl all showed great promise and composure.
"Shola Ameobi is a massive big lad, a handful, and Papiss Cisse has a lot of experience and is a terrific player,” said Sir Alex. “He's one of the best players at the club and it was a compliment to us that they did that. So I thought they handled it quite well.”