Washed up and overrated. Can’t hack the English game. Only coming for a final payday. These were some of the comments the ‘experts’ said about Zlatan last summer following his free transfer from PSG.
Roll on six months and the Swedish legend is on course to win a trophy in his first season at Manchester United after the side progressed through to the final of the League cup against Southampton at Wembley. Zlatan’s record of 20 goals before the new year capped off what has been a successful start to his first season in English football.
Wembley is a ground that has served him well recently. Zlatan’s first United game was marked with a goal against Leicester in the Community Shield match in August and, based on current form, he would fancy his chances against the Saints although they are not to be underestimated following the performance at Anfield mid-week.
I made reference recently to a Liverpool player who can’t cut it on the big game stage. Well, safe to say that Ibra is the opposite, the bigger the game the better as he has proven time and time again in his career. He has brought a Cantona type confidence to United and United fans will be hopeful that he emulates Eric’s Wembley goal against Liverpool (and not his kick against that Palace fan in 1995, almost exactly 22 years ago.)
What’s interested me in the months that he has been at United is how he has taken the pressure off Pogba and Rashford who both failed to live up to expectations this year. Zlatan has put himself at the forefront of United’s attacking flair this season. Despite the struggle for form the two younger players, thanks to the Swede’s experience, have slowly picked up form as the season has gone on. Pogba, in particular, is starting to look his transfer fee value which you can’t say that was happened quickly!
United fans in the away end on Thursday sang a song to the tune of, “Something tells me I’m into something good” by the Beach Boys. That’s very creative for the United fans, though it is always the away fans that give the team the best support. If they win the cup and Zlatan gets the winner, it might change to “God only knows what I’ll be without you” such is his influence this year. It would be a true reflection how much Zlatan has helped them with his form this season.