Following a promising 4-1 win at Old Trafford against defending champions Leicester City, Manchester United played host to Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk in the UEFA Europa League group stage where the Reds won 1-0 through Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a rather boring affair. United looked phenomenal against Leicester and full of energy but the same can not be said of the club’s performance against Zorya Luhansk. Ibrahimovic scored off of a golden chance that was nearly squandered by Wayne Rooney who mis-hit his shot. Fortunately for the captain, Ibrahimovic was there to head home the winner from the doorstep. After the match, Ibrahimovic was displeased with the team’s overall performance that evening.
“I think we could do much more. I — how do you say? — accept [expect] much more from the team but we’re working hard and against Leicester, we did a good game, today we did a good game.
“We didn’t score [as many] as we did against Leicester but we won and this is good for the confidence.
“If we continue like this and step it up a little bit more then we will do good.”
What was most important for United was getting three points after dropping the match against Feyenoord in the Netherlands in the Europa League opener. United is now out of that rough patch that included losses against Manchester City and Watford, but the frustrating match against Zorya Luhansk quickly reminded fans of just how poorly United can play at times. It is becoming a problem of consistency for United. Yes, Jose Mourinho has only been at Old Trafford for a relatively short period of time and it could be too early to critique the manager’s start, but problems are still problems.
The team has to stick together, through thick and thin. With some fantastic play at some times, United look like a title contender but then there are moments where the team looks like they were thrown together just before the match. They almost look like a bunch of strangers trying to play together when things go wrong. During the Zorya Luhansk match there were some positive takeaways but the return leg to Ukraine could be a rough one for United. The post-match feeling was certainly that the three points is all United needed to worry about, and that seems to be how Ibrahimovic also feels.
“We play as a team, we create as a team and we are trying.
“Sometimes you create a lot, sometimes you create less but the important thing is that you create chances. Then when the chance is coming you need to be focused and try to score.”
Individually, there is loads of talent in this United team. It will take some time to get everyone on the same wavelength, but they will have to get there soon if they want to push for a title or even just a Champions League qualification at the end of the season. Ibrahimovic had a decent match again. Some of his movement is poor, some of his speed on the ball lacks much quickness, but he manages to find himself in the right place to score goals for United. That is simply why he is paid the money he is paid. United has the capability to charge for a title challenge this year, but City is looking strong along with several other clubs tossing their hats in the ring. United is getting there and could be challenging for the title this season and absolutely will be next year. With Stoke coming up on Sunday, United is in a good position to go after its title challengers but cannot afford more failures. The question, for now, is how many more losses can United take before the title chances slip away yet again?