By Andy Jones
- Many doubted the signing of Zlatan even on a free transfer
- Has Zlatan had the same influence as Eric?
When Manchester United, or rather the player himself announced he was signing for the club on a free transfer. The doubters were shouting from the rooftops, or more truthfully from behind their keyboards.
Fast forward 6 months and the silence is deafening. Zlatan is the team’s leader, the talisman. He is the captain in every way, without needing to wear an armband.
You only have to see the stature in which his team-mates hold him to see the impact he has made on a team short of confidence, leadership and winning mentality.
When Jose Mourinho became manager he knew what the team was missing. Jose quickly went about addressing these issues, with the signings of Bailly, Pogba, Mkhitaryan and Zlatan. All 4 have been instrumental in turning the club back into something like the force it once was.
One Of The Best Premier League Signings Ever?
The signing of Zlatan for free has to be up there with one of the best ever signings in the Premier League era.
Pundits, journalists and so called social media experts were quick to dismiss his arrival as player past his best. Too slow and ponderous for the fast pace of the Premier league.
The media in this country continue to peddle the myth that the Premier League is “best league in the world”. The fortunes of English clubs in European competition over the last few years would suggest otherwise.
BT sport pundit Michael Owen was quick to suggest that during a barren spell of 5 games without a goal, that the player “stood still a lot”. Leading to a response from Mourinho that Zlatan would score more goals in his first season with the club, than Owen did in his 3 seasons at Old Trafford, and Zlatan saying he would make Owen “eat his balls”.
Zlatan Has Always Divided Opinion
True to form, Ibrahimović has already surpassed Owens 17 strikes in 3 seasons. With a superb 24 goals in 37 matches, including two goals at Wembley on Sunday as Manchester United picked up the first piece of silverware of the season (unless you count the Community Shield).
Ibrahimović has always divided opinion wherever he has played. It was constantly levelled at him that he was a “flat track bully” and never turned up against English teams when he faced them in European competition.
He was seen as player for the “fan boys” of the FIFA console game generation, all talk. With a game based on a reputation for being arrogant and a trouble maker. The truth as United fans have discovered this season is the exact opposite.
The Zlatan Image
The whole “Zlatan” image is very tongue in cheek, he clearly loves the attention, and has the self belief to be a winner wherever he has played.
You can’t be a bad player with a CV of Ajax, Juventus, Internazionale, AC Milan, Barcelona, Paris St Germain and now Manchester United. Plus a trophy haul of 32. Which is more than some of the biggest clubs in Europe themselves.
United are still competing on three fronts, and much of this is down to the impact of the giant Swede. Some United fans are now making comparisons with the legendary Eric Cantona, and the impact he had on the club when he arrived. Not just on the pitch, but his presence off it too.
United fans will now be hoping that Zlatan extends his stay for a further season, with hopefully the lure of the Champions league, and the task of winning the Premier league too much for Zlatan to turn down.