Victorious Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag warned his players they cannot afford to become “lazy” if they are to build upon the club’s first trophy in six years.
Sunday’s 2-0 Carabao Cup final victory over Newcastle at Wembley ended United’s silverware drought and gave them something to show for the improvement they have made under the Dutchman.
However, Ten Hag, who brought the trophy to his post-match press conference and almost forgot to take it with him afterwards, said: “It does, it shows something, silverware, that you are on a good pathway, you are in a good direction.
“It is one cup and it is February, but it shows we are in the right direction. This has to be the inspiration, it has to be the motivation to keep going, to continue on this pathway and to improve.
“Okay, be happy for 24 hours but not satisfied because satisfaction, that leads to laziness and when you become lazy, you don’t win any more games and you can’t win trophies.”
Casemiro’s header and Sven Botman’s own goal, which was prompted by the in-form Marcus Rashford, inside six first-half minutes ultimately won the day for the men from Old Trafford.
It is the club’s first trophy since the 2017 Europa League success, and if it has anything to do with their manager, it will not be the last.
Asked if it gave them something to build upon, Ten Hag said: “Of course.
“We are not only hoping, but to know that it is worth to invest, to know that it’s worth to suffer and to sacrifice and to know you have to give every day your best to celebrate.
“It’s all about that, it’s about glory and honour and if you want to prove something, if you want to win something, you have to do it otherwise you don’t get it because no-one is bringing something in top football.”
For Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe, it proved a sobering afternoon as his side failed to take their chances and were punished for their frailty at the back.
However, he insists the hurt will fuel the Magpies’ future quest to end their 54-year wait for tangible success.
Howe said: “It leaves us with a feeling of defeat in a final, which is never nice and we’re desperately disappointed, but already for me, you look to the future and you’re desperate to get back here and win a trophy.
“The supporters, who have been absolutely incredible for us this year, to see them disappointed at the end hurts, hurts badly, and the motivation and the thoughts are already going to how we can come back here and win them the trophy that they deserve.”
He added: “Nothing is guaranteed in football. You have to earn the right to get to these latter stages of the competitions. You have to earn the right every week in the league to finish where we want to finish, so the work starts again.
“But I hope we’re a different Newcastle, I hope we’re improving continually. Certainly in terms of the players’ efforts and their mindsets and what they’ve given me, I can’t criticise them at all this season, and we’re going to need that and some more to continue to be successful.”