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Why Nottingham Forest and Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup final at Old Trafford are more important than the Premier League blockbuster between Tottenham and Arsenal


Nottingham Forest fans need not be reminded that the club is huge – but the rest of the footballing world does from time to time.

Fortunately, this season has provided that timely reminder – and not just through the senior team.

The Reds reached the final with a 3-1 victory over Chelsea, scoring three times in seven late minutes
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Why Nottingham Forest and Manchester United's FA Youth Cup final at Old Trafford are more important than the Premier League blockbuster between Tottenham and Arsenal
And now the Theater of Dreams awaits
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Steve Cooper’s side are eyeing promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs, which would mark a return to the promised land, more than two decades in the making.

The two-time European champions, who draw crowds of 30,000 to the Championship each week, gutted Arsenal from the FA Cup and scared Liverpool to a fourth-place finish in the second tier, with a growing sense the club can back to where they were before the turn of the century.

However, the club’s under-18s are already there. They have beaten Manchester City and Liverpool this season, while knocking out nine-time winners Chelsea from the FA Youth Cup in a spectacular semi-final.

Their Tier 1 academy are fourth in the Premier League Under-18 table – and can move Manchester United to third place with a win over the Red Devils on the final day of the season.

But first is the quick question of the FA Youth Cup final against United at Old Trafford on Wednesday night in front of a sold-out crowd.

More than 67,000 people, including nearly 6,000 traveling Forest fans, are expected to attend the game to watch the Reds aim for another piece of history – that’s more than the 62,000 who will attend Thursday night’s blockbuster north of London between Tottenham and Arsenal.

Warren Joyce, United’s former director of reserves under Sir Alex Ferguson, made Forest the first non-Premier League club in over a decade to reach the FA Youth Cup final – and they’re entering the test strength on a 13-game unbeaten streak that dates back to February.

And the academy’s progress hasn’t gone unnoticed for Cooper. He said: “They know the first-team staff and players are behind them – we’re together as one club,” said Cooper, who has seen some of the under-18 players join. during first-team training sessions.

β€œThe only competition in youth development, from 9 to under 23, where results matter is the Youth Cup. It’s a historic and prestigious tournament, and you have to play to win.

β€œWinning and losing is important in the development of young people – that’s how you learn. For these guys to win and get to the final is amazing. We wish them good luck.

Whether or not Forest win the FA Youth Cup and advance to the Premier League this season, one thing is certain: the future is far brighter than the recent past.

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