The word treble instantly conjures up images of Manchester United's famous 1998/99 season, as a last-gasp, 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final sealed an historic trophy haul that also included the Premier League and the FA Cup.
While the nature and the sheer magnitude of this achievement ensures that it stands out, United are not the only (nor the latest) team to win three major trophies in a single season. We often forget that Gerard Houllier's, turn-of-the-century Liverpool outfit won the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup in 2001, while also finishing second in the Premier League.
Although this tremendous performance is often overlooked, this is an achievement that United themselves are on course to replicate in Jose Mourinho's debut season. The questions that remain are whether they will be successful in this aim, and which obstacles have the potential to trip them up on their way?
The League and the FA Cup: The Beginning and the End of the Treble Charge?
Let's start with the first leg of this treble, which could well be completed when Manchester United travel to Wembley to face Southampton in the EFL Cup on Sunday, 26th February. United are favourites to prevail here, and not least because of their superior quality and incredible run of just one defeat in 24 games since October. Mourinho also has an excellent pedigree in the competition, while his willingness to prioritise this polarising tournament has earned him the opportunity to match Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson in winning the League Cup on four separate occasions.
If we accept that United may well be successful in achieving the first leg of their treble, however, we must also recognise that the nature of cup football consistently throws up difficult and potentially insurmountable challenges. Sunday's FA Cup draw embodied this perfectly, as United were rewarded for a hard-fought win at Championship strugglers' Blackburn with a difficult draw away at EPL leaders Chelsea.
Given the form of the Blues and the fact that they thrashed United 4-0 in the Premier League back in October, Antonio Conte's are likely to start as favourites in their own pursuit of a domestic treble.
Make no mistake; Mourinho will need to call on all of his tactical nous and experience if his side is to navigate this hurdle, while the Reds will also need a little of the luck that has been so kind to Chelsea so far this season.
That said, United have built some impressive momentum on all four fronts in recent times, so they will have an excellent chance of progressing if they leverage this and utilise their squad well.
What About the Europa League?
The Europa League is always a difficult competition to predict, with the tournament even more keenly contested since it was announced the winners would earn an automatic Champions League place. United remain the bookmakers favourites at present, however, while the club already has one foot in the last 16 after a 3-0, first leg win over St. Etienne last week. There are a mammoth eight games left to determine the winner of this tournament, however, while teams such as AS Roma and Celta Vigo will also pose a threat to any potentially successful team.
With that being said, United definitely have the depth, quality and the experience of squad to prevail, while proven winners such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and lynchpin Michael Carrick deliver a strong mentality that is comfortable with pursuing glory on multiple fronts. This, aligned with Mourinho's own insatiable drive and desire to win trophies (even those that appear unfashionable to others) means that United are deserved favourites to claim the Europa League this season.
It's On, but Can United Really Do the Treble?
The issue of mentality is a critical one at Old Trafford, as it is believed that the winning psyche cultivated under Sir Alex Ferguson has been gradually eroded under Moyes and then Louis Van Gaal.
This is why Mourinho has been quick to challenge his players, encouraging them to develop a more profound level of mental toughness and an a desire to win consistently. The Portuguese will therefore be delighted with his side's cup successes, as they have underpinned a superb run of form and helped his players to cope and even thrive during a busy run of fixtures.
In this respect, the Reds will fancy their chancing of going some-way to emulating the legends of United's past. They certainly have the squad, the manager and the burgeoning mentality to make this happen, while there will be strong determination for both the club and Mourinho to restore their previous reputations after recent struggles.
It is extremely to win one cup competition (let alone three), however, and United will need to benefit from some of the luck that has so far deserted them during Mourinho's tenure. If there is a squad that can complete such a treble it is the current Manchester United outfit, but they must first focus on winning the EFL Cup next week and maintaining the current momentum that continues to drive them forward.
Read More: What’s next for Luke Shaw?