Michael Carrick has heaped praise on Zlatan Ibrahimovic following Manchester United’s 3-2 League Cup final win over Southampton, insisting that the Swede’s two goals won the game for Jose Mourinho’s side.
The 35-year-old sent Man United into the lead after just 19 minutes with an inch-perfect free-kick that sailed past Fraser Forster into the bottom left hand corner.
Southampton fought back and were approaching extra-time with a spring in their step, only for Zlatan to then send supporters into dreamland with a sumptuous late header.
And Carrick, speaking to Sky Sports after the game, noted that the Swede’s brilliance decided the game for United.
“Zlatan’s incredible. People have been asking questions of him. To play that many games is an achievement,” he said.
“He scores big goals, big important goals – none bigger than today he’s won us the cup. It’s massive, it’s hard to explain how big it is.
“For this group, the FA Cup was big last year – to get the winning feeling. We’ve carried it on in the Community shield and today. We know it was big going into the game. Now we can look forward.”
Zlatan’s arrival over the summer prompted a furious whirlwind of debate: some were adamant that he would continue to score for run under Mourinho, a manager he knew well and respected; others insisted that, at the age of 35, English football was a step too far. I, for one, had genuinely no idea. A part of me prophesied an underwhelming year for the Swede; another part of me acknowledged the fact that this was Zlatan – a man who doesn’t understand failure.
Fast forward six months and any hint of doubt surrounding the big Swede has completely disappeared. That was, without doubt, the biggest statement delivered by Zlatan so far, but make no mistake: he is far from finished.