Niall Quinn: Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford can learn from Zlatan Ibrahimovic

by Leo Nieboer

Former Manchester City striker Niall Quinn believes that Anthony Martial can learn from Zlatan Ibrahimovic following the Swede’s match-winning display during Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Southampton in the League Cup final.

Both Martial and Rashford enjoyed positive spells at No.9 under Louis van Gaal last season, claiming a combined 25 goals in all competitions.

The arrival of Zlatan, however, has forced the pair into featuring out wide; the Swede has claimed 26 goals this season, with his most important strike so far coming in the 87th minute of the League Cup final on Sunday.

And Quinn, speaking after the game, noted that the pair could could learn plenty from the way Zlatan approaches his game.

“I wondered if Mourinho was doing a disservice to youngsters like Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial by sticking them onto the shelf for a year or two while Zlatan was indulged,” he said.

“The Swede was asked about that in the same interview and he spoke about how he was bringing stability and focus about what needed to be done to United and he thought he could benefit the young strikers there.

“I think he was right. If you were a young player, the first thing you would wonder about is whether at the age of 35 you would still be able to be a dominating striker in the Premier League.

“Zlatan’s work-rate at that age on the pitch is only exceeded by what he does off the field. We’ve all seen the pictures of him working out wearing an altitude mask and how he brings his own physio from club to club, a mechanic basically who really knows the engine he is working with.”

It is often assumed that the only way Martial and Rashford can improve at No.9 is through, well, playing as a No.9. This is, granted, an obvious concomitant to development, but to see it as the only method of learning is perhaps a bit short-sighted.

I mean, isn’t it possible that the Swede’s sheer presence at the club, both on and off the pitch, is an edifying thing in itself? The pair, through watching Zlatan’s accumulation of 26 goals in 38 games first hand, would have almost naturally imbibed his notoriously ruthless, commanding mentality in the pursuit of victory, and supporters will hope that they continue to learn from the 35-year-old over the next few months.

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