EFL Cup - The Managers' chancesby Simon Lillicrap / 10 January 2017, 14:03
The EFL Cup semi-finals kick off tonight as Jose Mourinho's Man United take on Premier League new boy Marco Silva's Hull City. Ahead of the tie we have assessed the likelihood of each of the four remaining managers to lift the trophy in February.
Mourinho's side are the favourites for the tournament at 5/4. The Portuguese has pedigree in this tournament lifting the cup three times for Chelsea in 2004, 2006 and 2015. His sides chances of winning the tournament have been significantly increased after they were handed 'on paper' the easiest side left in the last four, Hull City.
Mourinho's League Cup record is incredible. In his 27 games in the competition he has never lost a tie over 90 minutes. In fact, he has only been beaten once in open play in this competition, a 120th minute winner by Ki Sung Yeung knocked Chelsea out in 13/14. His other two exits came in penalty shootouts.
Hull City and Marco Silva have reason to be quietly confident however as the Portuguese managers go head to head at Old Trafford. Silva has good cup pedigree, winning the Taca de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) with Sporting in 2014, making the Greek Cup final last year with Olympiakos and masterminding a 3-2 win at the Emirates in the Champions League.
Silva also won his first English cup tie, a 2-0 win over Swansea in the FA Cup on Saturday. Hull can be backed at 80/1 (888Sport) to win the trophy, which would be a remarkable start to life in English football for the Portuguese coach.
The second semi-final sees Jurgen Klopp take on another relative new boy to English football: Claude Puel. Liverpool are second favourites behind Man United according to the bookies and can be backed at 6/4 to win at Wembley. Klopp reached the final last year of this tournament last year only to lose on penalties to Man City.
Klopp's record in cups over recent years is consistent. He has reached a cup final in each of his last five seasons as a manager but has lost the last four. Facing Southampton in the semis is by no means an easy draw but Klopp will have his eyes set on righting last year's wrong.
Claude Puel has guided Southampton to this stage without conceding a goal including an impressive 2-0 win at Arsenal in the last round. Southampton faced Klopp's Liverpool in the Quarter-finals and were on the end of a 6-1 hammering at St Mary's. The Saints fans will be hoping to put that memory behind them when they host the Reds for the first-leg.
Puel, like the other managers left in the competition, has had some cup success in his career. He won the Trophee des Champions in France with Monaco, although that success did come way back in 2000.
Before this Cup run with Southampton his recent cup form in France was quite poor, being knocked out of the Coupe de France at the first hurdle in his final two years. Southampton can be backed at 15/2 to lift the trophy.
Whether it be a trophy for Mourinho in his first season at Man United, revenge for Liverpool and a chance to break Klopp's final hoodoo or a debut season trophy for either Puel or Silva, this year's EFL Cup certainly carries significance for all four managers.