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Carabao Cup

Steve McManaman previews the 2016 Capital One Cup Final

27 February 2016

Steve McManaman knows what it takes to win the League Cup having done so with Liverpool in 1995, and we caught up with him to get his thoughts ahead of this year's final at Wembley Stadium.

The former England international scored twice and was named Man of the Match when the Reds overcame Bolton Wanderers 21 years ago, before embarking on a four-year stint with Real Madrid where he won two La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions League medals.

Now a TV pundit, McManaman has followed the Capital One Cup with great interest since the first round in August and believes it will be an interesting conclusion to a gripping tournament...

Q: Two powerhouses of English Football go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup Final. In terms of entertainment value, surely it's set to be a great occasion?

A: I think it's a really good final and that's what the Capital One Cup deserves. It's very hard to win silverware nowadays so it's vitally important that you approach it in the right way and you're professional.

It was the first trophy Manuel Pellegrini won with Manchester City and he'll be desperate to win it again. As for Jurgen Klopp, only four months into the job, he'll be equally desperate to win it so it's a huge game for both sides and it means something personal to the managers.

Q: How would you assess the season both teams have had so far?

A: In Liverpool's case it's difficult because they haven't really progressed points-wise or with their position in the Premier League table, but they've got to the final and if they win it then Jurgen is all of a sudden a huge success, and a huge hit straight away.

On the other side, have Manchester City progressed this year? They probably haven't. Like Liverpool, they have been inconsistent and have slipped in the Premier League where they were huge favourites at the start of the season, certainly after they brought in Nicolas Otamendi, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling. 

They lost against Leicester and Tottenham who are both title rivals. Thankfully they are doing very well in the Champions League but they need silverware this year with the huge outlay that the owners have spent, even more so given the fact that last year was a barren year. 

Whether both teams have improved from last year is up for discussion but the fact is that they are in the final, and in the running for the first piece of silverware of 2015/16.

Q: It's been a fantastic tournament, what does it mean to win the League Cup?

A: It was one of the most marvellous days in my career. Whenever you have the chance to get your hands on silverware it's hugely important. 

At the end of your career when people ask how successful you were you don't want to say I finished fourth on five occasions and I qualified for the Champions League, you want to say you won a trophy and if you can say you've done it then it's a huge bonus. It's a wonderful trophy, this one.

Q: Where will the final be won? What are the key areas that need to be dominated?

A: Well at the Etihad [where Liverpool won 4-1 earlier in the season] Manchester City gave Liverpool far too much space for the players to operate so I think that will change and they'll be much tighter. 

In forward areas that's what everyone talks about, Sergio Aguero is ruthless at this moment in time. He's in great form; he's fit and scores goals and when you look at the players on show he is the one world-class, stand-out player.

On the other side, Liverpool have Daniel Sturridge back and he'll be out to prove a point. He's had a fair bit of criticism because of his injury problems of late and he will certainly be wanting to show people that he's fit and back to the form that he showed when he had a lethal partnership with Luis Suarez.

Q: In the middle of the park there are some influential players such as David Silva and Philippe Coutinho who always seem to make a difference...

A: In every position there are good match-ups. Liverpool are very mobile but Pellegrini played Fernando and Fernandinho the other day to be a bit more secure, so if he goes that away again it will give Yaya Toure and Silva the license to roam around a little bit which is where they are more dangerous.

For Liverpool, Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sturridge certainly look as if they have a good partnership growing so it will be a really intriguing contest because there are so many stars playing. I think with the way both teams have been playing and the fact they have been inconsistent has got people scratching their heads. Nobody is going into the game in tremendous form or as big favourites.

Q: Kevin De Bruyne can't play in the game due to injury, will that have an impact?

A: I think they really miss him. When he plays he's had a huge impact but when you have Sterling, Aguero, Silva and Toure in your team they should still have enough on show. Every team has injuries and you have to be able to respond and win games without your star players.

Q: If you had to pick a winner, where would your money be?

A: It's a very tricky one. Liverpool need the trophy more so I would probably just edge it in their direction.

Read more: Capital One Cup Final preview

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