Manchester United continued their unbeaten run on Saturday afternoon, but only thanks to a very late Wayne Rooney goal. Still, 1 point will not have been want Jose Mourinho was looking for from this fixture.
A lot of Manchester United players were not at their best in this fixture, but one player who caused serious frustration was summer signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Zlatan seriously struggled all afternoon. Stoke more than matched his physicality and then there wasn’t much more the Swede could give. He was slow on and off the ball and was wasteful in his finishing.
Let’s take a look at some statistics. Shocking in possession, the big Swede completed just 61.9% of his attempted passes. He only made 50 touches in the game, which will be far less than Mourinho would want and expect from his focal point in attack.
He was frustrating in attack, having just 1 shot which did not week the target and getting caught offside 3 times! He completed 0 dribbles successfully and had 3 unsuccessful touches, which was more than any other Manchester United player.
Here’s some of the reaction to Zlatan’s performance on Twitter. It’s safe to say the United fans were far from satisfied with what they saw.
Ibrahimovic was disappointing today #plfanzone so unlike him
— Pablo Russo? (@LulamaShiburi) January 21, 2017
Ibrahimovic was unbelievably shambolic and wasteful today. Too slow. #MUFC
— Frankopolo (@franqopolo) January 21, 2017
Ibrahimovic was born offside
— Zoha (@ohsoVan) January 21, 2017
Personally, I think that although Zlatan has been scoring a lot of goals lately, Manchester United perform better as a team when he is not in the lineup.
He obviously is a goal threat at all times due to his height, strength and experience. When United inevitably resort to a more long ball tactic, he is ideal. But it hasn’t worked too much this season. With young and talented forward like Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford on the bench, I can’t help but think that Jose should freshen things up in attack. It’s almost like United are attempting to build their team around a 35-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which is not wise. Rashford and Martial are the future of the clubs attack and they are nothing like Zlatan, completely different players that would form a completely different attack.