Carling Cup Final's Brightest Stars of the Future

Andrew WhittakerCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2009

This article is a preview to the Carling Cup final, that is being played later today.

By the top-managers, this trophy is merely seen as a bonus, and as a way of letting the younger players of the squad having a go at some piece of silverware.

That means that today's cup final will show a lot of variation in players. Manchester United will put out a starting eleven, with many young players, whereas Tottenham will put their strongest side out their.

Because of this, I have chosen to do the best starting eleven of today's starting line-ups, commenting and analyzing their future simultaneously.

Here is my personal opinion of the best players of today's final.

Goalkeeper: Ben Foster

Brilliant Ben, was considered one of the most promising goalkeepers in England, when he played for Watford during a two-year loan spell with them from 2005-'07.

This stint, saw his reputation increase with lightening speed, getting all the applause he deserved. His manager at Watford, Aidy Boothroyd, was pleased, to say the least, by his on-loan goalkeeper.

He even went as far as saying: "he's better than current Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar" and "I believe he is going to be the best goalkeeper in the world."

As a result of his form, he earned his first, and only, cap for England on Feb. 7 in a match against Spain.

Due to long injury spells, such as damaging his knee-ligaments, Ben Foster has had limited success at United, but remains a bright prospect for the future.

Right Back: Rafael da Silva

One of two identical twins, Rafael has stunned Manchester United's fans all over the world with his brilliant technique, his right mind and his defending.

Even though he was injured recently and will take no part in this game, he has been a key figure in United's march to the final, and therefore has to be included in this article.

Originally signed from Brazilian side, Fluminese in 2007, him and his brother Fabio, did not get a work permit before 2008, where he was finally ready to make his debut against Peterborough in a pre-season friendly.

He has shown fantastic form throughout the season, earning the United right back spot ahead of players like Gary Neville, John O'shea and Wes Brown.

No. 1 moment in his career so far, came in a game against Arsenal where he scored United's only goal with a stunning left footer.

Centre half: Jonny Evans

Sorry Spurs fans, neither Michael Dawson, Jonathan Woodgate or Ledley King has what it takes to claim the spot in front of the Northern Ireland international.

The Belfast born United player has been really impressive in his first full season for United.

Having signed for United's academy in 2006, Evans did not make his League Debut until September 2008, playing in United's 1-1 draw against rivals Chelsea.

Despite only being 20 years old at the time, Jonny wasn't overawed by Chelsea's big forwards, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson to call him: "The natural successor to Rio Ferdinand."

With Injuries and suspensions to first choice Rio and Vidic, Evans has proved to be a blessing from the sky in Manchester United's pursuit to gain a 3rd premiership medal on the trot.

Centre Half: Nemanja Vidic

Nemanja Vidic signed for Manchester United in January 2006 alongside Patrice Evra.

His first half-a-season did nothing to persuade the United supporters into believing that he was a prospect for the future.

He was often insecure, technically weak and not as strong as you would have expected.

However, Vidic proved his critics wrong in his first full season as a United player, being the stronger of the excellent partnership between himself and Rio Ferdinand.

Ironically, Vidic made his first appearance for United in the Carling Cup semi-final against Blackburn, substituting Ruud van Nistelrooy in the dying minutes.

He remains a red-hot favourite for the Player of The Year trophy.

Left Back: Gareth Bale

The choice of Gareth Bale comes as Fabio da Silva hasn't been able to show his talents on regular basis, and on the belief that Patrice Evra won't be a part of the Manchester United Squad today.

Gareth Bale signed for Tottenham in May 2007, after brushing off interests from Manchester United, amongst others.

He signed for £10 mill, and has had some difficulty living up to the high expectations. However, he has played 25 games this season with some good displays.

Before he signed for Tottenham his left foot was touted as being brilliant. This talent of his has not been fully shown yet, as he hasn't scored this season.

However, at 19 years old, the Welsh international has plenty of time to reveal his talents, and he could think about showing something today.

I chose to use him in defense, as that is where I see his future.

Right midfield: Aaron Lennon

An incredible talent and one of the brightest prospects in English football. When he signed for Spurs in 2005, Aaron was thought as an amazingly gifted winger, who would torment defenders for years to come.

And so he did, managing near 120 games for the Spurs during his first three seasons, with nearly 10 goals to follow. This earned him a World Cup call-up, from Sven Göran Eriksson, who also let him play on two distinct occasions.

When he replaced an injured David Beckham against Portugal in the quarter-finals, he showed everyone just what he could do, taking on international defenders and creating chances for England.

However, he came under wrong guidance with Juande Ramos, who did not seem to rate as much as former manager, Martin Jol.

Aaron Lennon could cause severe problems to Manchester United's chances of winning the Carling Cup today.

Centre Midfield: Darren Fletcher

The unsung hero deserves a spot in this talented side, as his performances has been brighter than bright this season.

In my opinion, United's most consistent midfielder, Flecther has upped his game, putting in a few goals this season, too.

He doesn't seem to ever get the applause he rightfully deserves, as other, more flamboyant players, stand in front of him in terms of interest.

Signed a new four-year contract with United in the summer, pleasing everyone around the club, especially the manager, as his talents are much needed.

Always plays an important role in Manchester United's most vital games.

Centre Midfield: Luka Modrić

Modrić won this hard-fought battle with Manchester United starlet Anderson.

Dubbed "the new Kaká", Modrić played a fantastic Euro 2008 after having agreed a six-year contract with spurs in April.

He is the clubs most expensive player, equalling the record set by Darren Bent in 2007, a fee of £16.5 mill.

The creative midfielder has had his ups and downs, but he will definitely show his qualities in the future. Juventus and Inter Milan are thought to want his services in the summer.

Left Midfield: Nani

This is a decision based upon lack of better options.

Nani had a decent debut season at Old Trafford, whereas his second has been disastrous.

Limited to Carling Cup status, Nani has taken a huge swipe in form, leaving the good impressions we got from him last season, to drown.

He has been very inconsistent, maybe due to a long Euro 2008 campaign, that saw him getting very little rest during the summer.

Signed for Manchester United for an undisclosed fee in 2007. Best game was played in the FA cup victory against Arsenal where he dazzled the defenders throughout the game. He was rightfully named Man of the Match, and scored a goal during the process.

Forward: Danny Welbeck

The Longsight born, 18-year-old center forward came bursting into our minds when he made his debut against Stoke, scoring a wonderful goal in the end of the match.

Since then, his impressive scoring record has continued in the Cup matches against Southampton and Derby County.

Due to his somewhat strong physique and technical ability, he has been compared to Arsenal striker Adebayor and former Arsenal, current Pompey striker Kanu.

I would play him as a forward, even as Sir Alex will put him on right wing today. I believe his talents are most likely to be revealed in attack, as he is a big, strong lad who can head and push off other defenders.

Prospect for the future.

Forward: Wayne Rooney

At 23 years of age, Wayne has already accomplished more than most footballers could wish to do in a whole career.

Since his £29 mill move from Everton in 2004, he has been instrumental to the success United have achieved over the last few years.

Touted as the most promising footballer of this nation, Wayne has proved himself worthy of these accolades. He has continued to score important goals for his club, but also has he been leading the assist charts every year since his arrival, only to be beaten this season by Dimitar Berbatov.

Sir Alex Ferguson finally got Wayne after having pursued his services, since Wayne was only 14 years old.

He came with a huge price tag, however, I doubt that any United supporter regrets the millions spent on this mega talent, who was once called: "the best talent this country has seen for 30 years" by the most influential person in the footballing world.

He is also considered to be the future captain of the United team, an element he will achieve once his feared temper, has eased up a bit.

He is a star of the past, the presence and the future.

Bench: Tomasz Kuszczak, Michael Dawson, Jonathan Woodgate, Jermaine Jenas, Michael Carrick, Roman Pavylchanko, Carlos Tevez.


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