Zlatan Ibrahimović is one of the most iconic footballers to come out of the last few decades. He has played 797 professional games over his career so far, scoring 489 goals and assisting 201. He’s also won 33 trophies. That’s mental.
During this long and illustrious career, he had a spell in England, with Manchester United. He spent a season and a half at the club, playing 53 games, scoring 29 goals (assisting 10) and winning two trophies and a community shield.Embed from Getty Images
At Manchester United right now, as everybody already knows, they are searching for a new manager. Zlatan was brought into the club by Jose Mourinho and he believes that to win trophies like they once did under Mourinho, they need to stop focusing on the past.
In an interview with The Guardian, Ibrahimović said “They talk too much about the past. When I went there I said: ‘I’m here to focus on the present and to make my own story’. But when you have too much it becomes like a loop. You have to think about the present or you should go to a hospital and clean your head.”
To be fair to him, it’s true; he did. He played very well in England, just in the way he set out to, and described it in a way only he could. According to Zlatan Ibrahimović, he “conquered” England.
“I had a great experience in England.” He details. “Manchester United are an amazing club and we won a couple of trophies.“
His performances at the club, especially in the big games, were at times fairytale-like. On his debut, in the Community Shield against Leicester, he didn’t have the greatest game in the world. However, just as it felt like the debut would not be one to remember, he drummed up an exquisite header in the 83rd minute to seal the victory in his, Jose Mourinho, and Eric Bailly‘s first game at the club.Embed from Getty Images
Six months later, in the EFL Cup final, Zlatan Ibrahimović drummed up the goods yet again. After he opened the scoring the with a stunning free-kick from 30-yards, the match was at a 2-2 stalemate before half time. It remained that way until the 87th minute, when Ibrahimovic got ahead of the Southampton defence to nod in Ander Herrera‘s cross to win the game 3-2.
He did not play in the Europa League final due to an ACL tear he sustained earlier in the competition, but he was Zlatan all the same, celebrating the trophy in style.Embed from Getty Images
As he has played in many leagues across the globe, he has a good sense of reference when judging how good the Premier League is.
“The quality is overrated in a technical way. But the Premier League has different qualities – the pace, the rhythm.” He recalls. “You can be the best player in the world but if you cannot handle that pace and rhythm [you won’t succeed].“
“In Spain, France, Italy, the technique is better. That’s why there are so many foreigners in the Premier League. They bring the technical [aspect].”
On the point about pace and rhythm, it’s hard to argue against him. Some of the hottest talents in the world have come to the Premier League and struggled due to the fast nature of the competition. It is the origin behind one of the most famous phrases in English football, originally said by Andy Gray back in 2011: “can they do it on a cold rainy night in Stoke?“Embed from Getty Images
Ibrahimović has had an incredible career. So when he gives his sporting opinion on a matter, he’s usually right. In this case, he thinks Manchester United should stop looking to the past to fix the present, and he’s not wrong.
Manchester United in the last couple of years is starting to feel like an old-boys club, and maybe the next perminant manager to come in shouldn’t be one who has legacy from the past, but one who will look to create legacy in the future.