Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring in the League Cup final between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Wembley Stadium, London, February 2023.

7 reasons Man Utd are back: Rashford, Ten Hag, silverware…

Manchester United have lifted their first piece of silverware since 2017 after beating Newcastle in the League Cup final and there can surely be no doubt that United are back.

The club were in a sorry state at the end of last season, but the appointment of Erik ten Hag as manager has proven to be inspired. A number of excellent signings, including Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro, have elevated the side on the pitch.

With the club having won one trophy and targeting another three, we’ve identified seven reasons why England’s most well-supported club have emerged from the doldrums.

Erik ten Hag

Old Trafford was a disaster zone when Ten Hag took over in May last year, but his diligence and footballing intelligence have lifted United off the canvas.

Erik ten Hag after Manchester United's Europa League victory over Barcelona at Old Trafford, Manchester, February 2023.

READ: Ten Hag’s biggest achievement at Man Utd? Shutting Richard Keys up

Cristiano Ronaldo gone

While United legends queued up to defend Ronaldo and his goal record, the more canny observer noted his debilitating effect on his team-mates as United went from second to sixth in 2021-22.

Ten Hag used the excuse of two opening defeats to drop the veteran striker and, as United’s results improved, Ronnie’s sense of resentment towards the new boss grew.

His reputation-shredding interview with Piers Morgan was the final straw. Ronaldo’s contract was terminated and United haven’t looked back since.

Improved players

Marcus Rashford is the hottest striker in Europe, Bruno Fernandes is back to his brilliant best and Ten Hag has made players out of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot. The guy is a genius.

Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring for Manchester United in their Premier League victory over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, Manchester, February 2023.

READ: 8 players that Ten Hag has improved at Man Utd: Rashford, Fernandes…

Title race

If you’d have suggested back in August that United would’ve been in the title race at the end of February, you’d have been sectioned on the spot.

But, after losing their opening two matches, Ten Hag’s tricky reds have recovered brilliantly to put themselves in a position to pounce should Arsenal and Manchester City drop points between now and May.

Beating Barcelona

Barcelona may have declined since Xavi and Andres Iniesta patrolled their midfield, but the La Liga leaders were still fancied to beat United over two legs of their Europa League play-off.

But, after a thrilling 2-2 draw in Spain, United secured a famous comeback victory at Old Trafford to give Ten Hag another statement result. They’ll face Real Betis in the last 16 of the competition.

Still in the FA Cup

With Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle all out of the competition, United will be one of the favourites to lift the FA Cup at Wembley for the first time in seven years in May.

Premier League strugglers West Ham are their opponents at Old Trafford in the Fifth Round. The road could be clear for more silverware.

League Cup winners

Their victory over Newcastle in the League Cup final ensured United’s first piece of silverware since the 2017 Europa League final.

Arguably the biggest club in England, six years is an eternity to go without tangible success and this trophy is the biggest marker yet that United are back. They’ll want more…

READ NEXT: Where are they now? Man Utd’s XI from Marcus Rashford’s debut, 2016

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Man Utd’s top scorer from every Premier League season?