First title for Erik ten Hag, or will Eddie Howe finally claim a major trophy?

Erik ten Hag is a serial winner in the Netherlands but is on the verge of something special in England with Manchester United.

Appointed in the summer, the Dutchman has transformed the struggling giant into its old formidable self, and the club is now fighting for honours on four fronts – the English Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, and Europa Cup.

Ten Hag can win his first trophy with the Red Devils in the League Cup final against Newcastle tomorrow morning (12.30am).

On the opposite side of the dugout is Eddie Howe, the unlikely boss of the world’s richest football club.

Howe became Newcastle’s manager after Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, RB Sports & Media, and PCP Capital Partners took over the club in October 2021.

He had one success with Bournemouth, winning the Championship title – the second tier of English football – in 2015.

While Newcastle has money to spend, Howe has been wise with the cash, although that could change if the Magpies win the trophy and finish among the top four in the Premier League to qualify for the Champions League next season.

Newcastle has never won this trophy but was runner-up in 1976 to Manchester City. United is a five-time winner – 1992, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2017.

Although history is against them, Malaysian fans Joseph Roy and Victor William are confident Newcastle can end its drought.

“It will be a tough one, but I am optimistic Newcastle will win 2-1,” said Roy, 45, a marine engineer.

“I will give them a goal as (Marcus) Rashford cannot stop scoring!”

William, who is with the AirAsia CEO’s office, said the form book would go out the window in a cup final.

“We have a bit of a problem in the goalkeeper department, as our first choice (Nick Pope) is suspended, while his deputy (Martin Dubravka) is cup-tied,” said the former journalist.

“It looks like (Loris) Karius will play. If that happens, I hope he proves his critics wrong.

“The good news is Bruno Guimaraes is fit again. We missed the Brazilian’s creative spark and failed to win the six games he sat out through injury.”

William said Howe has been a revelation since becoming boss, and praised the Englishman’s spending in the transfer market.

“He buys players for the long-term. Entering the final and contesting for a trophy is a bonus. Our target is still to finish among the top six,” said William, 49.

Meanwhile, United fan Arnaz M. Khairul believes it will be an easy win for his favourite club.

His confidence was boosted after United’s 4-3 aggregate victory over Barcelona on Friday morning.

“Even if I wanted to be unbiased, on the current form of both sides, it would be difficult to foresee anything other than a United victory,” said the 49-year-old sports writer.

“The only possible way for United not to win is if somehow, Karius channels his inner Lev Yashin and redeems his career in one night of madness.”

His sentiments were echoed by insurance agent Shima Nasiruddin.

“It is going to be United all the way. They are in form, and I can see them scoring three or more goals – no matter who is in goal,” said the 37-year-old mother of three.

“Rashford will get his customary goal, Bruno (Fernandez) and (Anthony) Martial will score the other two.”