The Ibrahimovic Enigma: What exactly has the Swede brought to Old Trafford?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The buzz surrounding one of the longest drawn out certainties in history was phenomenal. It started early in the year when it was announced Zlatan Ibrahimovic would not be staying at Paris Saint-Germain beyond the end of his contract. Meltdown ensued and it was a genuine media cat-and-mouse for months until the deal was finally announced. Of course fans were cock-a-hoop at the news, Ibrahimovic is a real superstar and was due to be the catalyst in Jose Mourinho‘s domination as new manager. It started well, Ibrahimovic flew out of the blocks, scoring well and showing his undoubted class. But recently things haven’t quite lived up to the expectations.

It’s fast becoming a case of yet another passenger. An elder statesman who has seen it all and done it all, looking for one last payday and maybe the one big league title he is missing. Ibrahimovic should be using his experience to teach the young whipper snappers like Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial who are looking to develop into players akin to him in his prime. The Swede has never been one for bounding around the pitch, screaming at team mates and looking unkempt in his play, but recently he has begun strolling about and taking on the air of an entitled being that deserves to be winning without any great effort.

The goals have dried up, the mercurial striker is now on the worst run in the league of his career with 540 minutes played and 35 shots taken without hitting the back of the net. He’s now on just four for the season and hasn’t a single assist to his name. Against Burnley and Stoke he was guilty of missing opportunities even I could score. He can’t even take an acceptable free kick anymore, his ‘effort’ last night that trickled harmlessly into the feet of the wall was abhorrent. Nothing he does is going right.

There must be an answer to the issues he is experiencing. Quality like that doesn’t just disappear over night. Is it age? Is it the fact the Premier League is a far more competitive one than what he is used to? Only he knows, but what he must do is work it out in his head and remedy it quickly or he will continue to be nothing short of a hindrance to the side.

Should he be dropped? It happened to Wayne Rooney who (in name not ability) is at the same prestige as Ibrahimovic. It would do Marcus Rashford the world of good to start through the middle for a change too, something he is used to and a position he knows so well. It’s the fall out from such an action that may cause cataclysmic shock waves that further derail the beleaguered squad. But it’s a risk that needs to be taken, as it stands his presence in the starting lineup is only serving to its detriment.

Something has to change massively for him, there are already talks today LA Galaxy are looking at the possibility of his signing come the end of the season. Players miss chances, it’s a fact of the game, but for there to be 35 shots without any kind of substance goes without need for explanation. He isn’t totally to blame for the rut United find themselves in, but he is certainly aiding it. Maybe dubbing him “our Swedish hero” was a little premature. Retrospect hey.

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