Many of you are familiar with the headlines that broke out earlier this week when Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho announced striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract will be extended for another year. The Portuguese’s call would have surprised some. Sure, Mourinho might see some value in him. But what impact will it have on other strikers in the squad?
When Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford, he cleared the air and said Wayne Rooney is my captain and an important player in the squad. But lately, the player himself was forced into his manager’s bad books with a series of dreadful performances. He was dropped from the starting XI and has featured rarely since.
Still, Rooney has many admirers around who would be rooting for him to break the long-standing goalscoring record of Sir Bobby Charlton at United. However, now it seems very unlikely with Ibrahimovic’s contract renewal news. Rooney has managed to score only one goal in the Premier League this season dating back to the opening game against Bournemouth; elsewhere he has scored 2 goals in Europa league, one of which came last night against Feyenoord and the other in a 2-1 defeat to Fenerbahce.
It’s clear that Mourinho is not going to play Rooney as the main striker anytime soon. And with Ibrahimovic staying for another year means his chances are even more diminished. So, it’s very likely that the striker will leave for his own good. He’s already sacrificed his forward position by playing in a deeper role, where he is rarely that effective. Many rumours have already started floating around linking him away from Manchester United.
Anthony Martial, the player who made the headlines on day one after scoring United’s final goal in 3-1 win over arch rivals Liverpool, is now struggling under the management of Mourinho. Martial was thriving under Louis van Gaal and was seen as a future prospect for the club. But the French international is suffering this season. Maybe because of some of his personal issues outside football.
Anyway, that is a worrying sign for Manchester United because he was supposed to end the ‘striker crises’ created by the departure of Chicharito and Robin van Persie.
Martial’s preferred position is as a forward but, Ibrahimovic’s arrival in the squad meant he was pushed to the flanks. However, Martial has shown that he can be effective from the flanks, by providing speed and skills. And now as Ibrahimovic is set to stay for another year, it will mean Martial is likely to stay on the flanks.
Finally, Marcus Rashford, another academy product and teenage sensation who has already shown the signs that he could be the next big star at Old Trafford. So, yet another forward player has to give up his preferred position due to Ibrahimovic’s arrival. The reason for that is Mourinho is sticking to his usual 4-2-3-1 formation, which involves only one striker. Mourinho has hardly played anyone else as striker other than Ibrahimovic. No doubt that Rashford has been given regular starts by Mourinho but, he has featured as a striker only a couple of times.
Of course, Ibrahimovic’s scoring ability cannot be questioned. He has incredible scoring records wherever he has played before. But, now you have to consider the age factor too. The Swede will turn 36 next year and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he has already past his prime. As we all know that the Premier league requires much physicality, it may not be the problem for Ibrahimovic but the pace is the real concern here. Although United have a backup for him but who knows, Mourinho might bring in some other player in the transfer window.
Whatever, it’s an early decision by Manchester United manager to extend Ibrahimovic’s contract. He should’ve waited for at least the year to end.
Do you think it’s a good call by Mourinho to extend Ibrahimovic’s contract for another year?