Former Arsenal winger Paul Merson believes Jose Mourinho ought to drop Zlatan Ibrahimovic from his starting XI, insisting Marcus Rashford would cause more damage at No.9 than the Swede.
The 35-year-old has netted six goals so far since coming to Old Trafford in July, but hasn’t scored in six games.
His performance against Manchester City in the League Cup led to many venting their frustration towards the striker – who did, in all fairness, dramatically improve as the game went on.
Merson, writing for Sky Sports, claimed Mourinho ought to exclude the striker after recent performances.
“Ibrahimovic used to be world class but he’s 35. He used to be in the top three or four players in the world but he’s not the same player anymore. Even Lionel Messi won’t be world class when he’s 35,” he said.
“He can’t play twice a week either now, which we saw on Sunday. He played Thursday and Sunday and he didn’t get a kick.
“Ibrahimovic isn’t going to run away from anybody and I’d say put Marcus Rashford in there instead as the leading striker to give you that movement. Rashford’s 19, though – they shouldn’t be relying on him.
One has to laud Ibrahimovic for his ability to generate a match-defining impact in the face of a largely substandard personal performance, as displayed for Juan Mata‘s 54 minute winner.
The Swede won a high ball, brushed his marker away, and charged towards the by-line before sending across a perfect pass for the Spaniard to finish. Such a contribution, even after a truly woeful first half, is connotative of a truly magnificent player.
That said, his sudden ineptitude in front of goal remains a concern. He was a blunt instrument on Sunday, and his failure to connect with a perfect Rashford cross was a gloomy signal of a man going through a ‘dry patch’.
A spell on the bench would allow for the 35-year-old to rest, reflect and clear his mind, before returning hungrier than ever.