Manchester United’s best performance of the season came on the same day as newspaper reports suggested the club were set to offer Zlatan Ibrahimovic astronomical amounts of money to stay at Old Trafford beyond this season.
A youngster who joined the club at the age of seven and cost the club nothing, stole the headlines as Manchester United beat champions-elect Chelsea last Sunday while twenty-eight goal man Ibrahimovic sat watching with the rest of us, only entering the pitch late on to give the young Marcus Rashford a deserved standing ovation from the United faithful.
Thursday’s Europa League meeting with Anderlecht also showed why Rashford is the future of Manchester United and ironically Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s nasty looking injury might force Mourinho to use the 19 year old up top for the rest of the season, which will give the United boss a chance to see what it could be like next season.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been nothing short of magnificent this season and his goals have carried the club. The simple fact remains, however, that Marcus Rashford at 19 is the future of Manchester United, while unfortunately Ibrahimovic, who will turn 36 next October, is winding down his career and his staying at Old Trafford next term may halt the progress of Rashford, as it has this season.
Training day in day out with the experienced striker will have helped the youngster this year but with a World Cup approaching at the end of next season, Rashford will not want to play second fiddle to the former Barcelona striker next term, and nor should he.
The England international hasn’t had a consistent run in the United side due to the form of Ibrahimovic this season, and as Sunday showed the pace of both Rashford and Jesse Lingard bring Manchester United closer to playing the United way while Ibrahimovic can make the difference goal wise, he often slows down the play and can be anonymous at times.
Rashford and Lingard scared the life out of a solid Chelsea defence and Old Trafford was hopping for the first time in a long time, arguably one of the best performances there since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson.
This summer promises to be a huge one in terms of Jose Mourinho adding pieces of the jigsaw to his Manchester United project. His four signings last summer have been successful and at least another four should come in, with rumours of Antonie Griezmann and Romelu Lukaku coming to Old Trafford this summer. If Ibrahimovic should stay on, where does that leave the long term future of Marcus Rashford at Manchester United?
If Ibrahimovic should stay on, where does that leave the long term future of Marcus Rashford at Manchester United?
Eric Bailly has been solid, while both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba have the ability to improve. Ibrahimovic will be held in the highest regard by Manchester United fans even if the Swede departs this summer, not just for his goals but also for bringing back the winning mentality and leadership the club were lacking.
Reports suggest Manchester United must match the ambition of Ibrahimovic if the Swede should stay on at the club. In fact, Mourinho must show his ambition for the future of Manchester United and thank the former Paris St Germain star for his services and build his team around Marcus Rashford next season.
Should Ibrahimovic be happy to stay at Old Trafford as a squad player with Rashford as the number one striker then Mourinho and the Manchester United fans would approve. Unfortunately, Ibrahimovic wouldn’t play second fiddle for anyone, as we saw at Barcelona with Lionel Messi and at 35 he isn’t going to start now.
Goals have been hard to come by for the club this year but this summer’s transfer window should give Mourinho more options next term as Manchester United embark on what they hope will be a realistic fight for the Premier League title. They should not be so heavily reliant on one player next season, should their transfer targets arrive this summer.
Rashford showed on Sunday and on Thursday that the future can be bright for the club, he deserves the chance to become a regular in the number nine role next term, while Ibrahimovic should depart with his reputation as one of the world’s best strikers firmly intact.
Damien McEvoy Pundit Arena
On this week’s edition of the Mixer Irish football podcast, Neal Horgan joins us to discuss Colin Healy’s retirement and we catch up on the all the latest League of Ireland news.