Attentions turn to the EFL Cup midweek as Manchester United welcome Hull City to Old Trafford in the semi-finals of the competition. The Reds will be hoping to make it nine wins on the bounce in all competitions and get one foot in next month’s final at Wembley. The comfortable 4-0 victory in the FA Cup against Championship side Reading on Saturday made it nine wins on the spin for Jose Mourinho’s men, who have not tasted defeat since early November, a run of 14 matches.
The Tigers won their third round tie against Swansea City at the weekend, however, sit at the foot of the Premier League table following a torrid first half of the season. Former United player and assistant manager Mike Phelan took the job at the beginning of the season before getting the sack last week without being given any funds to bring in reinforcements in the current transfer window. The Reds came out on top in the only meeting between the two sides this campaign with Marcus Rashford scoring the only goal of the game in the dying seconds at the KCOM Stadium back in August.
Let’s take a look at a few things that connects the two teams, starting with the Premier League’s latest managerial casualty, Mike Phelan.
Phelan started his career at Burnley having come up through the youth ranks, he spent six years at Turf Moor making 168 appearances before moving to Norwich City in 1985. He later joined the Reds in 1989, making 102 appearances. The Englishman won the Premier League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup during his time at Old Trafford. The Englishman has had plenty of jobs within football after hanging up his boots in 1995, mainly at Old Trafford, including first-team coach and assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson during a successful period for the Reds. Phelan was named caretaker boss of the Tigers when Steve Bruce left his post ahead of the current Premier League campaign and took the job full-time in October, however, lasted less than three months following a run of nine games without a win.
Who? You might be asking, yeah me too. Following a three-week trial at Old Trafford, Manucho joined the Reds on a three-year deal in January 2008. Following a loan spell at Greek side Panathinaikos in 2008, the Angolan striker joined Hull on loan in January 2009 for the remainder of the 2008/09 campaign. He scored twice for the Tigers in 13 appearances. Manucho returned to Old Trafford, however, made just three appearances over an 18 month period before being shipped off to the sunnier climes of Real Valladolid in July 2009. He now plies his trade in Mexico with Cruz Azul.
Will Keane came up through the youth ranks at Old Trafford along with his twin brother Michael, who now plays his football with fellow Premier League side Burnley. Will was a regular starter and prolific scorer for the U18’s and reserve sides, however, struggled to make the breakthrough with the senior side. He was sent on loan to numerous teams including Sheffield Wednesday and Preston North End. He made his debut for the Reds during the 2011/12 campaign, however, had to wait over four years for his next appearance in the first team. The injury ended his 2015/16 season in the FA Cup clash against Shrewsbury Town and that would be the last time he would wear the Red of Manchester United. He joined the Tigers in the summer transfer window although is yet to score for his new team.
James Weir left Manchester United on deadline day in the summer. It was a shock seeing him leave the U23 side, then coached by Warren Joyce, currently coached by Nicky Butt. Weir was a player excelling at U23 level, even earlier in the season with United playing without a main striker, with Weir most of the time playing in that role. His chance to leave United, playing under Mike Phelan and alongside former United teammate Will Keane, at first team level, will have been the reason he left, as to be honest, under Jose Mourinho and with many players such as Anthony Martial. Memphis Depay, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard to get through, there was a big chance he would not make the first team this season, effectively playing in the U23 league, which would quell his development. Weir may not have made it to the first team at United, but he and the club can hold their heads high, as he has made it in the game, with a long winding road and a period of disappointment to come, especially if Hull do end up being relegated at the season’s end.