Shaun Goater previews Carabao Cup semi-finals for EFL
Shaun Goater believe the Carabao Cup has lived up to all expectations as the four remaining teams vie for a place in the final this week.
Tottenham Hotspur, Brentford, Manchester United and Manchester City, where Goater rose to the level of club legend and now ambassador, are preparing for their semi-final clashes with a place in the showpiece final at Wembley Stadium up for grabs.
Ahead of the ties, which take place today and tomorrow, the former Bermuda striker has been impressed with performances in the competition so far and is anticipating two exciting encounters.
“It’s lived up to all expectations this season,” he said speaking to the EFL website. “It’s been fantastic, especially when you look at Brentford.”
The Sky Bet Championship high flyers reached their first League Cup semi-final with victory over Premier League side Newcastle United in the previous round and have undoubtedly been the story of the competition.
“It’s a great story, isn’t it?” added Goater. “It’s been a great story and a great competition for them; even more so if they were to beat Tottenham and advance to the final.
“They've perhaps been a bit of a surprise package. They've beaten a number of Premier League teams along the way, but I'm not surprised to see them where they are. I've watched them play, I've seen the style of football that they play and it's impressive.
“For the neutral, it’s been great and I think a lot of neutrals will want to see Brentford reach the final because of what a good story it is. To be honest, the neutrals will probably want a different winner to Manchester City as well!”
However, for Thomas Frank’s side to be able to prolong their fairytale run, they will have to overcome Tottenham, who are going in search of a first League Cup since 2008, but with four-times winner José Mourinho at the helm, Goater is expecting a tough test for the lower-league outfit.
“At Spurs, José Mourinho is a manager who knows how to win,” Goater said. “He knows how to advance to the next level and reach finals, especially in this competition.
“We have four teams in the semi-finals that will all make for exciting finalists, whoever it may be, but I think we’re all hoping for some very exciting games of football this week."
Unsurprisingly, the 50-year-old is hoping his former team can clinch the title for what would be an eighth time and fourth time in succession under Pep Guardiola.
However, they have the small matter of a Manchester derby against their in-form rivals to navigate first.
“I’m not at all surprised to see them in another semi-final,” he added. “Pep Guardiola takes this competition very seriously, he’s won it three times since being at City and he’ll be wanting to win it again. He’s a serial winner.
“Obviously with my blue hat on, I want to see Manchester City win it again, but Manchester United are a club that know how to advance to finals as well and they know how to win competitions, so City have a very tough game on their hands."
As a player, Goater was part of the 1999 play-off winning side at City, while he also secured promotion with Southend United and lifted the EFL Trophy during his time at Rotherham United.
Reflecting on his former success, Goater highlighted the importance of winning trophies as a player, no matter what the competition is.
“You want to win and these are occasions that you remember, no matter where you come from,” he said.
“As a player you remember every single experience like this. People often say that winning the Premier League is the best thing you can do as a player, but I think winning any trophy is equally the same as any other. It’s the best feeling in the world, no matter what trophy it is.”
“Momentum, a winning mentality, confidence and belief is so important in football. If you win a trophy during the season, it brings all of those things.
"As a player, if you’ve won a trophy and you look around the dressing room, it’s proof that you can do it and there is that capability within the squad. If you’ve already done it once this season, why can’t you then go on and win promotion or win the Premier League.
“That's the kind of belief it brings and I think it’s really important to get a trophy in the bag before the league season is over.”
Carabao Cup semi-finals
Tottenham Hotspur v Brentford, 3.45pm
Manchester United v Manchester City, 3.45pm