Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t do too much during his debut for Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on Sunday but the big Swede was there when it mattered most.
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Throughout the game Ibrahimovic battled with Morgan and Robert Huth without much luck and even if a few of his flicks and tricks didn’t quite come off, he didn’t have much support around him anyway.
United’s skipper Wayne Rooney was playing just under Zlatan and the duo seemed too far apart at times and most of their better work was done when dropping deep. There is a reason for Zlatan having a rather quiet outing apart from the goal.
Speaking after United’s victory, his manager Jose Mourinho told BT Sport that the team needs to adapt to try and make the most of Ibrahimovic’s strengths.
“Zlatan will be more dangerous when we are more dominant and play closest to the box. Zlatan is not a very fast player to play 50 metres away from the box like where Vardy can be dangerous. Zlatan needs the team to play, he needs the team to produce and he needs the team to be arriving in the final third,” Mourinho said. “It’s something that we also have to change because the profile of this team was more about possession of the ball. Even arriving in crossing positions, the team normally plays back again and tries to change to the other side. We are trying to change. The reality is the second goal is a great example of that.”
So, there you have it. For many of us who thought Zlatan would split time with Marcus Rashford up front for United this season, it sounds like this could well be Ibra’s team.
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Even at the age of 34, his goal on Sunday showed his penchant for coming up with the goods on the big occasion is still strong. Now, Zlatan must adapt to a new challenge in the PL but his teammates must also adapt to him and many fans of the Red Devils will be pleased to hear Mourinho saying they’ll get back to the tactics Sir Alex Ferguson predominately used to great success. Get it wide and cross it in. Of course, David Moyes did that and it didn’t go too well but after the ultra-possession based style of Louis Van Gaal, we will now see a more traditional United and that will suit Ibrahimovich down to the ground.
The message from Mourinho is clear: Zlatan is my man.