Zlatan is back – but who will be the main man at United?


Zlatan Ibrahimović has re-signed for Manchester United. In May this year, these were words I didn’t think I was ever going to write. But since his release the loving eyes both the Swede and Jose Mourinho have returned in each other’s direction suggested it was always going to be the case.

That didn’t stop the social media hype, however, when the second coming of Zlatan was announced.

I’m happy. Of course I am. All Reds will be, but it does beg the question, is it something we actually need to do? The stats from last season don’t lie. Zlatan bagged 28 times in all competitions. We’ve since lost Wayne Rooney and we’re about to embark on a crusade to re-establish ourselves in Europe.

But we’ve signed Romelu Lukaku who surely has to be regarded as first choice. The £75million plus outlay demands that, regardless of the way the Belgian hit the ground running in the first two games of the season.

Anthony Martial is also back amongst the goals and offers a decent option through the middle. As does Marcus Rashford who’s never really had a clear run as a striker after his first half season in the first team – when he did after Zlatan’s injury last season he was class.

All three of the aforementioned players have one thing in common. Pace. United have been so quick on the counter in the first two games of the season it’s been frightening. With Zlatan as the focal point last term, all too often we were slow and ponderous. We’ve looked all the better for the change.

Mourinho has also never opted for a striking duo at United, preferring to play with a target man, two wide men and a number 10. It’s therefore unlikely Lukaku and Zlatan will play together like some reports are saying, which suggests when fit he’ll be a like for like replacement for the former Everton man (despite his new number 10 shirt number). Either coming on as sub or rotating for a starting berth.

Will the Swede be happy with that? He demands to be the main man.

Will Lukaku be happy with that? He’ll surely want to start as many games as possible. Rotation isn’t something he’s used to. It does however, give plenty of competition for places. Lukaku will know, if he doesn’t keep scoring and giving Mourinho what he wants, he’ll be out of the team.

Zlatan is clearly up for the challenge. When is he not? There were plenty of offers for him to move elsewhere, notably LA Galaxy. In his own words, he’s back ‘to finish what [he] started’, which suggests he wants a league winners medal in England. Adding a serial winner to the ranks is a smart move from Mourinho and increases the quality in a squad with ambitions to challenge for the Premier League crown.

Mourinho himself said ‘we are delighted to have his ambition and experience back with us.’ And therein lies the key point. Jose is focussed on this season. He wants to win the league and challenge in Europe’s top competition. He has a young, hungry squad, but with Rooney leaving he’s lost one of the old guard who’s been there, done it and won it.

Zlatan’s exactly that. Lukaku might be number one, but he can still learn from Zlatan in the vital moments of a long season.

Come to think of it. We can all probably learn something from Zlatan.

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