Luton v Manchester United: Carabao Cup third round – live! | Football

The last time Manchester United visited Kenilworth Road, it was 1992 and Alex Ferguson still hadn’t won a league title in England. That ...


The last time Manchester United visited Kenilworth Road, it was 1992 and Alex Ferguson still hadn’t won a league title in England. That day, a Lee Sharpe opener was cancelled out by a Mick Harford header in a disappointing 1-1 draw for the away side, the Luton legend pouncing on a rebound after he had crashed an outrageous header off the crossbar.

Fergie pinpointed Harford – by then a 33-year-old journeyman striker playing for a team that would that season be relegated from the top flight – as one of the biggest reasons United didn’t win the title that season, prolonging their 25-year wait as Leeds pipped them down the home straight. Not only did Harford cost United two points that day in April – deflated from that draw, they would lose three of their final four games as Leeds leapfrogged them into first place – but Fergie had actually tried to sign Harford that season, only to be rebuffed by Luton.

In his first autobiography, Fergie wrote:

“Our pitch [at Old Trafford] was terrible. That’s why I tried to sign Mick Harford. To try and play football on that pitch was impossible and I thought if I got Mick, we could have just played it up there and let Mick whack the centre-halves out of the road. That was a mistake. We should have signed him … if I had acted as purposefully as I should have done, we would have won the league”.

Things have changed since then. The pitch is nicer at Kenilworth Road, the stands are empty and United have since won 13 top-flight titles. So tonight’s Carabao Cup match should suit United better than it did in 1992. Still, you suspect Luton have a chance here.

United looked woeful in defeat to Crystal Palace at the weekend and face a tricky trip to in-form Brighton on Saturday, so Ole Gunnar Solskjær may well be cautious with his team selection. If he does, Luton could spring a shock: they have won all four of their matches this season and since Nathan Jones was reappointed as manager in May, Town have lost just once in 13 competitive matches. Woof.

What is more, Harford is still there, as Luton’s chief recruitment officer, with his summer signing, Jordan Clark, scoring the winner in the past two matches, including most recently against promotion hopefuls Derby on Saturday. The spirit of Harford lives on! Beware.

Kick-off: 8.15pm BST.

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Newsrust: Luton v Manchester United: Carabao Cup third round – live! | Football
Luton v Manchester United: Carabao Cup third round – live! | Football
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