Dutch head coach Erik ten Hag has lifted spirits at Manchester United and now he can start lifting trophies, with the Red Devils fancied to beat Newcastle United in the EFL Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
It's been a remarkable turnaround from the Dutchman, who was under huge scrutiny early on in his tenure, but now looks set to end United's longest trophy drought in 40 years by bringing the six-year wait for silverware to an end.
Opponents Newcastle have not lifted a trophy since 1969, but all things are relative and Ten Hag has clearly seen the EFL Cup as a priority, a stance which can be rewarded with a victory in 90 minutes at 6/5.
|What||Manchester United v Newcastle United, EFL Cup final|
|Where||Wembley Stadium, London|
|When||16:30, Sunday 26th February 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports Main Event & Football|
|Odds (FT)||Man Utd 6/5, Draw 23/10, Newcastle 12/5|
Odds correct at time of publishing and subject to change.
The back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Brentford which started Ten Hag's Old Trafford reign already feels like a lifetime ago.
The Red Devils have won 16, drawn three and lost just one of their last 20 matches and the sole defeat in that period came in the last minute away to Premier League leaders Arsenal.
United are now only five points behind the Gunners - and it would have been just two had they held on for a point at the Emirates - while progress at the expense of Barcelona in the Europa League means the rampant Red Devils come into the final in buoyant mood.
Ten Hag's substitutions turned the tide to see off Barca 2-1 at Old Trafford on Thursday and it's not the first time this season that the former Ajax coach has been able to change a game with a couple of clever tactical tweaks.
Match-winner Antony will be among those now pushing for starts, but whatever team begins at Wembley should have the experience to handle the occasion.
Central to that has been Casemiro's brilliance in midfield and United's win percentage is up to 76 per cent in the 25 matches he has started since arriving from Real Madrid, compared to 64 per cent when he has not started.
Those who do fancy a Newcastle upset could also note that United are unbeaten in the 12 matches in which Casemiro and his former Madrid mate Raphael Varane have started together. You might get past one, but rarely have teams managed to overcome both.
It's the likes of Casemiro and Varane who provide the solid base from which United's flair players can do damage, but Bruno Fernandes has stepped up in the absence of the injured Christian Eriksen to shoulder more of the creativity.
However, it has been the form of Marcus Rashford which has set the Red Devils on an upward trajectory.
Rashford has scored 27 goals for club and country this season, including three at the World Cup for England, and the misery of last term has long been forgotten.
Since returning from the World Cup, Rashford has featured in 18 games for United and he has scored in 14 of those. It makes sense that he is the favourite to open the scoring at Wembley and with that strike-rate a bet on Rashford scoring is a value proposition at 13/10.
At an even bigger price consider free-kick expert Rashford to score from outside the box at 14/1. It would not be a big surprise if United adopted a shoot on sight policy given the goalkeeping crisis at Newcastle which means fourth-choice Loris Karius is likely to play.
Nick Pope is suspended, Martin Dubravka cup-tied and Karl Darlow on loan, leaving Eddie Howe to presumably be left in the position of taking a chance on Karius, who had a miserable time between the sticks for Liverpool.
Karius has not played a competitive game in over a year and it definitely makes sense for Rashford and company to test him early doors when the nerves will be jangling.
Pope has 12 Premier League clean sheets this season and has played a major part in Newcastle's challenge for a top-four finish so his ban will be a savage blow.
Even with Pope, Newcastle's push for Champions League qualification has faltered in recent times following one win in seven league games, although it could be argued this competition has become a distraction for Eddie Howe's squad.
However, Newcastle have scored only 13 goals in 13 games in all competitions since the World Cup and not even the return of key midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is certain to spark the Geordies back into life.
One area where they are more prolific is in collecting cards, particularly Joelinton. The industrious midfielder has racked up nine bookings this season and a tenth at 13/5 could be coming at Wembley.