All talk was reserved for one man in particular, as Manchester United continued to brush up their fortunes with a 2-0 victory away to Premier League high-flyers West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns this Saturday.
As Wayne Rooney continues to set his sights on Bobby Charlton’s historic 249-goal haul for the Red Devils, denied the feat on the night by the crossbar, it was Man United’s other veteran in attack, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, that hogged the plaudits with his renewed stream of goals.
The Swede gave José Mourinho’s reviving side the lead as early as the 5th minute with a well-taken header from Jesse Lingard’s cross, whereas Ibrahimovic was on hand to double the dosage in the second half and ease any lingering worries that existed concerning a potential banana skin that was the trip to 7th placed West Brom.
Of the two shots taken by Ibrahimovic, all ended up in the back of the net in what was a Man of the Match performance, whereas the brace bagged tonight sees the target man hit his 34th goal in 33 league games throughout 2016.
Just the one goal was enough, however, for the 35-year-old’s name to dominate the reactions emerging from United’s evening in the West Midlands.
Ibrahimovic was widely expected to struggle in the Premier League when arriving at Old Trafford, in particular due to his age, but the striker’s first goal of the night told a very different story, taking him to double figures in the Premier League and pushing his total for the season to 15.
In response, United fans and loyal ‘Ibra’ backers were on hand to outline the former Paris-Saint Germain star’s good work, without a doubt aimed at those branding him a flop.
Ibrahimovic has the most goals for #mufc at this stage in a season since Van Nistelrooy in 2002 [bt]
— utdreport (@utdreport) December 17, 2016
Zlatan Ibrahimovic.. what a guy tho. Playing week in week out at 35. 3rd game in 6 days. 14 goals so far this season. Mad when you think.
— Hayley (@Hayles_101) December 17, 2016
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 17, 2016
To think some were suggesting Ibrahimovic was past his best, wouldn't hack it in England…double figures for Premier League goals #WBAMUN
— Kevin Palmer (@RealKevinPalmer) December 17, 2016
Well Zlatan is proving me wrong. How he is doing this at the age of 35 is incredible.
— d (@dfezzyy) December 17, 2016
— Aburo Tobi (@IamMrLoco) December 17, 2016
Too old. Overrated. Never done it in a proper league. Waste of money. 10 in 9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
— Sam Homewood (@SamHomewood) December 17, 2016
Ibrahimovic, a champion in Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands, has always had the question mark hanging over his head around these alleys of Europe over whether he could replicate his success in front of goal in the popular goldfish that is Premier League.
Now testing his capabilities at the ripe old age of 35, the odds weren’t as favourable as the man himself might like to think, but the striker has always strived to discard such claims that he’s “finished” at the highest level.
Even as recently as today, the well-preserved Ibrahimovic was keen to outline that he feels fresh in the prospect of being handed a rest in coming games.
“In football, sometimes you have to listen to everybody around you, but in my mind I’m a 20-year-old boy,” the Man United number 9 said. “I’m fresh and I’ll keep going, as long as the team needs me.”
A repeat of Ibrahimovic’s current goal scoring exploits in 2016 certainly wouldn’t go amiss in United’s bid to climb back up the Premier League.