Other than the fact that he’s a world class talent, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the perfect signing for Manchester United for plenty of other reasons.
It’s fair to say that Jose Mourinho has a job and a half on his hands at Old Trafford. Romantically associated with the job ever since the final few seasons of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, the former-Chelsea boss will be expected to bring United back to the glory years, years in which Ferguson had the Old Trafford faithful spoiled rotten.
It speaks volumes that on the day that United managed to land their first piece of silverware since Ferguson, fan jubilation came from the news of Jose Mourinho’s imminent appointment, not of Jesse Lingard’s winner. That’s how much is expected of him. The FA Cup? Not even worth celebrating.
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As such, United are in need of a jolly-good spruce up, especially if they’re to bridge the gap from Champions League hopefuls to title challengers in the space of a season.
Ibrahimovic is the ideal jewel to spearhead the new shiny, exciting Man United. He can be the poster boy for their impending resurgence.
Since Ferguson’s departure, they’ve lacked the swashbuckling swagger that sunk fear into their opponents. The ‘Theatre of Dreams’ has for three years now been lacking the pizzazz that comes with big players and entertaining football. Following Ferguson down the tunnel were the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Robin van Persie. Big names, big characters and all big losses.
Arguably all of them had nothing left to give to the club, but their replacements have failed to fill their shoes. A mixture of hopeful juveniles and exorbitant flops has left United with an air of mediocrity - a feeling totally foreign to an Alex Ferguson side. They’ve become a team that ‘could-be’ rather than a team that ‘are’, but, Mourinho and Ibrahimovic can put that right.
Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Luke Shaw and Lingard provide the Red Devils with perhaps their most exciting batch of youngsters since the class of ‘92, but somewhere between the impressive fledglings and the reformed, no-nonsense, role model Wayne Rooney, the squad lack leaders, they lack inspiration, they lack big characters, the likes of which have brought them so much success down the years.
Ibrahimovic can lead, he can teach, he can inspire and of course, he can play. He’s everything United are crying out for.
He is, however, a short term fix, and that’s precisely what makes him so perfect. On the one hand, it would be a terrible shame if a player as promising as Rashford had his progression stunted because United signed a replacement striker, but on the other hand, there’s no way that Mourinho will look at his new squad and not want to sign one.
It would be tremendously brave to centre a title charge around Marcus Rashford - who only featured eleven times in the league last year. Mourinho is a man of pragmatism. Having an untested 18-year-old as the figurehead of his new side would be very un-Jose.
Ibrahimovic is the ideal solution to the problem. He brings with him the world-class talent that is required of a Man United striker, but at 34, and with a rumoured one-year deal in the pipeline, he’s no threat to the progression of England’s latest starlet.
They made a strong statement with the appointment of Mourinho, and they’ll be making another one with the signing of Ibrahimovic. The Swede can be the catalyst that drags United out from the depths of mediocrity and back onto the pedestal that Fergie built, only this time, there’ll be a lot more egotism and self-admiration. But since when have Man United ever worried about popularity?
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