Football 2023: Newcastle United fans seen cleaning up ahead of League Cup final against Manchester United

You would expect scenes at Wembley for a cup final to be raucous, especially with two clubs the size of Manchester United and Newcastle United.

Thousands of fans descended on central London ahead of the League Cup Final between the two clubs, marking Newcastle’s first cup final in 23 years, incidentally also played against Manchester United.

Flares and smoke bombs went off as fans partied into the night singing terrace chants in Trafalgar Square, and while one would expect the mess left afterwards to be enormous, the City of Westminster had a heartwarming helping hand from Newcastle fans, who were seen staying back to clean up afterwards.

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Images on social media show Trafalgar Square looking spotless afterwards, despite the scale of the celebrations.

One social media user called the scenes afterwards “heartwarming”.

They would turn out to be short lived for Newcastle fans, with Manchester United prevailing 2-0 for their first silverware since the Jose Mourinho era.

Erik ten Hag’s side took control by halftime thanks to Casemiro’s header and a Sven Botman own goal and held firm despite Newcastle’s second-half pressure.

United’s first silverware since 2017, when they won the League Cup and the Europa League, was just reward for a mature display that underlined the impressive work done by Dutchman Ten Hag since he arrived from Ajax last year.

The celebrations that accompanied United’s sixth League Cup triumph could be the first of many trophy parades on the evidence of Ten Hag’s transformative first season.

United remain challengers on three other fronts, sitting third in the Premier League and with an FA Cup fifth round tie against West Ham on Wednesday followed by a Europa League last 16 tie against Real Betis in March.

United finished a dismal sixth in the Premier League last season, but Ten Hag has swiftly masterminded their return to relevance It was fitting that Ten Hag’s maiden trophy success with United came after he met Ferguson for dinner recently and with the Scot watching from the Wembley stands.

Ending United’s longest trophy drought for 40 years is no guarantee of future success, but the steely Ten Hag appears capable of thriving in the unrelenting Old Trafford spotlight.

United co-chairman Avram Glazer, attending his first game since the November announcement that his family are considering offers for the club, might reconsider selling up after viewing what could be the start of a golden era.

Despite failing to win their first major trophy since the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, Newcastle can also expect to feature in more showpiece occasions soon.

Newcastle have been revitalised since their takeover by a Saudi-funded consortium in 2021 and they competed gamely in their first cup final for 24 years Hauled from the relegation zone by boss Eddie Howe last season, they sit fifth in the Premier League, a sleeping giant awaking after decades as the laughing stock of English football.

Newcastle’s fanatical ‘Toon Army’ turned one half of Wembley into a roiling sea of black and white as they belted out songs of praise for their heroes well over an hour before kick-off.

But that show of Geordie passion proved the high point of the day for Newcastle as United spoiled the party in composed style.

Newcastle had feared stand-in keeper Loris Karius might be exposed in his first major occasion since his howlers led to Liverpool’s 2018 Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid.

Playing instead of the suspended Nick Pope, Karius might feel he could have done better with United’s second goal, but he was not to blame for Newcastle’s defeat.

Allan Saint-Maximin had toothless Newcastle’s best opportunity to snatch the lead when he skipped past Diogo Dalot for a fierce strike that David De Gea repelled with an outstretched hand.

It was a crucial save as United went ahead moments later in the 33rd minute. Luke Shaw’s free-kick arrowed towards the Newcastle six-yard box and Casemiro timed his run perfectly to glance a clinical header past Karius.

It was just reward for the latest commanding performance from the United midfielder following his move from Real Madrid last year.

United doubled their lead in the 39th minute.

Wout Weghorst’s pass found Marcus Rashford inside the area and, with Newcastle’s defenders slow to react, he hit a mistimed shot that deflected off Botman and looped over the wrong-footed Karius.

Newcastle laid siege to De Gea’s goal in the second half but, showing the desire and organisation demanded by their manager, Ten Hag’s men refused to buckle.

If United’s last League Cup triumph ended up as fool’s gold, this success suggests the Ten Hag era is built on far stronger foundations.

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