24 March at 13:25
While it wasn’t a surprise to look up at in awe, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was announced as a LA Galaxy yesterday, a day after his exit from Manchester United was confirmed by the club’s official website. And although, the announced was made in as fascinating a way as possible, time couldn’t be better than this for many to ask as to whether Zlatan’s stint at Old Trafford was a success or not.
It’d be worth remembering that this is a 36-year-old striker that we are talking about and he’s a man who was told that he would not work out in the Premier League and he’s too old to score regularly for a club like Manchester United. Having signed from Paris Saint-Germain for free in the summer of 2016, Ibrahimovic came in at United with little to prove, despite all that.
Bring a foreign 36-year-old striker into any club in the Premier League, he might as well struggle. Not just because of the physical demands, but because of the pressure that the Premier League brings on a player as senior as that. It’s different, if you’re a central defender or a central midfielder. The demand of getting goals regularly for a Premier League game, for a new comer to the league, is massive.
That demand and pressure though, is something Zlatan thrives on and he proved that. In his debut season under Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils, the big Swede found the back of the net 22 times in all competitions. And while he wasn’t as young as he’d have wanted to be, he did a very good job up front for United, considering the fact that he played as a sole striker.
He won three trophies during his stay at United, capping off a good return. But the question that arises is that did he conquer England? Did he rule over during his stay?
It’d be fair to say that United wouldn’t have won any of the trophies if Zlatan wouldn’t have been there. He was a vital figure in all three of the trophies- be it the Community Shield, the League Cup or the Europa League. He scored a winner against Leicester in the Community Shield Final, scored a brilliant brace against Southampton in the League Cup final and scored multiple times in the Europa League campaign, including a hat-trick against St.Etienne.
Leave the tangible stuff, the striker left enough of an impact on the Premier League and among the Manchester United fans to make him a cult hero. Wearing the number nine jersey and number ten jersey at United does make you special. More so, he had that aura about him that made many compare him to the former United great Eric Cantona, who would always walk around with a swagger and pride similar to that of Zlatan. Because of that, Manchester United could relate to him. And for others, he fit the bill of being a United player- Hated, adored, but never ignored.
While the stay lasted only a season and a half, it would not be a crime to say that Zlatan imposed himself in England with trademark swagger. He did memorable stuff that will go down in history and scored goals that United fans will remember. He came to England with a mission- to prove doubters wrong and he did exactly that.