Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Zlatan effect: God Of Manchester or Illusion at its best?

“I have no individual targets because that I did already after three months in England. I conquered England – it took three months.” – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

These words by the Swedish star probably reflect his achievements in his first season at United. Having scored 15 goals at the end of 26 match weeks, he sits as the fifth highest scorer in the League. He has consistently scored for the Manchester outfit, solving the ever lingering striker problem ever since Van Persie departed. In addition to that, he has gelled well with the team, especially Paul Pogba. All of Pogba’s assists for the Red Devils have come in for Zlatan. He also adds experience to the squad. He has played in leagues across Europe, therefore comes in handy in crunch situations. Zlatan also has a good record when it comes to injuries. He has barely missed a Manchester United game.

Despite all of his glory and glimmer, we need to ask one question: How good has Zlatan really been for Manchester United?

Well, most of the United fans would jump into concluding that the Swedish has been too good. Many will claim that he is the reason why United has been where it is this season. He might also be given credit for progress to the Europa League Round of 16. At the end of the day, there is something we have all been missing. Has Mourinho made enough efforts to evaluate alternatives to Zlatan up front? Has Rashford been given enough starts as a central striker? Why has Rooney not been given a chance to redeem himself?

Should United look at alternatives and give them more chances?
Should United look at alternatives and give them more chances?

The answer to all those questions above borders around a no. Zlatan has been played in almost all the games the Mancunians have played this season.If we look at the League itself, the team has 10 draws and 3 losses. In most of the situations, a draw serves as an evidence of an inadequate attack rather than defence. In United’s case, their defensive record supports the theory that the problem lies in United’s attack.

The Midfield- Attack partnership:

Now that we have established that everything looks okay from the defensive side, let us focus on the transition into attacks via the midfield. United’s midfield is primarily dominated by Herrera, Carrick and Pogba. Their roles are precise and well defined. Carrick is the overall guardian of the defence, making sure the play is in United’s favour. Herrera is the man who runs around and presses players, often doing the dirty work via fouls. Pogba, on the other hand, focuses more towards the goal. His primary job is to get good balls into the box for the front three to score. To be truthful, these three have carried out the given task with perfection and ease. There is barely anything lacking from the midfield setup.

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The likes of Mata and Rooney, who are often deployed as CAMs also play their role well whenever needed. Hence, the output provided by the midfield is up to the mark. United has created one of the maximum number of chances in the League, which speaks volumes on behalf of the midfield. Therefore, the problem clearly lies in the final third.

The Wingers and Zlatan: 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5ziuNLWlic

- Advertisement - 10crirc

This is probably United’s best goals of the season. It might appear to be pretty simple to a lot, but the sheer vision of Mkhitaryan is praiseworthy. The goal was only possible because of two main factors. One, Mkhitaryan’s quick thinking to give such a beautiful through ball. Two, Rashford’s ability to get to the ball quickly. This is one aspect of Zlatan’s game that has hurt United at times. His lack of mobility leaves the wingers without any options up front for such quick moments. The only times Zlatan has been available up front is for Pogba’s long balls.

Zlatan barely has any counter attack goals this season.

Apart from that, United wingers fail to emulate the wing play of the Fergie era where they had players like Rooney with a decent amount of pace up front. United’s counter-attack hasn’t been that effective this season as most of the goals have come from the build-up plays. Hence, playing Zlatan day in and day out without considering Rashford for the same position leaves us missing a mobile link in the attack. United desperately need a quick and agile presence in the centre of its attack, and Zlatan does not make the cut.

Zlatan’s wastefulness: 

Zlatan’s season has been successful this season if the number of goals is a parameter for measurement. With a tally of 26 goals for United, he has been reminiscent of his days in previous leagues. There is one side of his game which we often under ignore under the mask of his apparent brilliance. The aspect in question is his wastefulness. Zlatan has one of the lowest conversion rates among the top strikers. In the Premier League’s stats index, Zlatan has 109 shots in the League. A return of 15 goals from 109 is a conversion rate of around 13%, while Harry Kane maintains a double of that rate(27%).

Zlatan leads in all the negative stats.
Zlatan leads in all the negative stats.

Apart from an undesirable conversion rate, Zlatan has also missed the most number of “Big Chances” this season. A big chance is defined by the Premier League as clear cut chances. Zlatan has missed 17 big chances this season, the second on the list stands at the 8 such misses. This is a worrisome stat as even if he converted half of those 17 chances, United would definitely be in the top 4. His lack of ability to finish easy chances takes away credit from a hardworking and an able midfield. The point being made is that yes, Zlatan has had a good season but hasn’t been extraordinary. We also need to consider that Zlatan has played more games than most top strikers, hence it is natural that he will have a good number of goals.

Discipline issues:

It is common knowledge that no player can get away with fouling Zlatan. He has had a history of fouling opposition players as an act of revenge for fouling him. The most recent example being the match against Bournemouth where he elbowed an opposition player for apparently stamping on him. Not denying the fact that the stamp was harsh, it led to Zlatan being off his game in the remaining portion of the game. He also missed a crucial penalty which could have seen United going to the fourth of the table or fifth in the least. Now he also faces a prospective 3 match ban from the FA for his actions.

Zlatan should take a cue from Diego Costa who has improved his discipline by leaps and bounds this season. The main man of the team should not give into rash moments of weaknesses. Maybe, on the other hand, United will now be able to experiment more in the absence of the Swedish striker. Jose will be able to weigh his options both long term and short term.

Jose’s options: 

Mourinho should utilise the resources at his disposal to the maximum. Though Rashford and Martial are played as Left wingers, both of them are inherently strikers. Mourinho might be making a mistake by not playing these players in their natural positions. Turning them into makeshift wingers will also hinder any scope of development at their natural positions which may be a big problem in the future.

Also, he should look to substitute Zlatan in some matches. He plays the entire 90 minutes and is not taken off even if he has clearly had a bad game. That hesitation to take him off may have proven costly in a couple of matches. Boldness and a headstrong approach are what is required from Mourinho to deal with the final third problem. With United fighting on 3 fronts, it needs to be season how far they improve their finishing. All that glitters is not always gold, especially when we are talking about the English game.

“I have no individual targets because that I did already after three months in England. I conquered England – it took three months.” – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

These words by the Swedish star probably reflect his achievements in his first season at United. Having scored 15 goals at the end of 26 match weeks, he sits as the fifth highest scorer in the League. He has consistently scored for the Manchester outfit, solving the ever lingering striker problem ever since Van Persie departed. In addition to that, he has gelled well with the team, especially Paul Pogba. All of Pogba’s assists for the Red Devils have come in for Zlatan. He also adds experience to the squad. He has played in leagues across Europe, therefore comes in handy in crunch situations. Zlatan also has a good record when it comes to injuries. He has barely missed a Manchester United game.

Despite all of his glory and glimmer, we need to ask one question: How good has Zlatan really been for Manchester United?

Well, most of the United fans would jump into concluding that the Swedish has been too good. Many will claim that he is the reason why United has been where it is this season. He might also be given credit for progress to the Europa League Round of 16. At the end of the day, there is something we have all been missing. Has Mourinho made enough efforts to evaluate alternatives to Zlatan up front? Has Rashford been given enough starts as a central striker? Why has Rooney not been given a chance to redeem himself?

Should United look at alternatives and give them more chances?
Should United look at alternatives and give them more chances?

The answer to all those questions above borders around a no. Zlatan has been played in almost all the games the Mancunians have played this season.If we look at the League itself, the team has 10 draws and 3 losses. In most of the situations, a draw serves as an evidence of an inadequate attack rather than defence. In United’s case, their defensive record supports the theory that the problem lies in United’s attack.

The Midfield- Attack partnership:

Now that we have established that everything looks okay from the defensive side, let us focus on the transition into attacks via the midfield. United’s midfield is primarily dominated by Herrera, Carrick and Pogba. Their roles are precise and well defined. Carrick is the overall guardian of the defence, making sure the play is in United’s favour. Herrera is the man who runs around and presses players, often doing the dirty work via fouls. Pogba, on the other hand, focuses more towards the goal. His primary job is to get good balls into the box for the front three to score. To be truthful, these three have carried out the given task with perfection and ease. There is barely anything lacking from the midfield setup.

The likes of Mata and Rooney, who are often deployed as CAMs also play their role well whenever needed. Hence, the output provided by the midfield is up to the mark. United has created one of the maximum number of chances in the League, which speaks volumes on behalf of the midfield. Therefore, the problem clearly lies in the final third.

The Wingers and Zlatan: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5ziuNLWlic

This is probably United’s best goals of the season. It might appear to be pretty simple to a lot, but the sheer vision of Mkhitaryan is praiseworthy. The goal was only possible because of two main factors. One, Mkhitaryan’s quick thinking to give such a beautiful through ball. Two, Rashford’s ability to get to the ball quickly. This is one aspect of Zlatan’s game that has hurt United at times. His lack of mobility leaves the wingers without any options up front for such quick moments. The only times Zlatan has been available up front is for Pogba’s long balls.

Zlatan barely has any counter attack goals this season.

Apart from that, United wingers fail to emulate the wing play of the Fergie era where they had players like Rooney with a decent amount of pace up front. United’s counter-attack hasn’t been that effective this season as most of the goals have come from the build-up plays. Hence, playing Zlatan day in and day out without considering Rashford for the same position leaves us missing a mobile link in the attack. United desperately need a quick and agile presence in the centre of its attack, and Zlatan does not make the cut.

Zlatan’s wastefulness: 

Zlatan’s season has been successful this season if the number of goals is a parameter for measurement. With a tally of 26 goals for United, he has been reminiscent of his days in previous leagues. There is one side of his game which we often under ignore under the mask of his apparent brilliance. The aspect in question is his wastefulness. Zlatan has one of the lowest conversion rates among the top strikers. In the Premier League’s stats index, Zlatan has 109 shots in the League. A return of 15 goals from 109 is a conversion rate of around 13%, while Harry Kane maintains a double of that rate(27%).

Zlatan leads in all the negative stats.
Zlatan leads in all the negative stats.

Apart from an undesirable conversion rate, Zlatan has also missed the most number of “Big Chances” this season. A big chance is defined by the Premier League as clear cut chances. Zlatan has missed 17 big chances this season, the second on the list stands at the 8 such misses. This is a worrisome stat as even if he converted half of those 17 chances, United would definitely be in the top 4. His lack of ability to finish easy chances takes away credit from a hardworking and an able midfield. The point being made is that yes, Zlatan has had a good season but hasn’t been extraordinary. We also need to consider that Zlatan has played more games than most top strikers, hence it is natural that he will have a good number of goals.

Discipline issues:

It is common knowledge that no player can get away with fouling Zlatan. He has had a history of fouling opposition players as an act of revenge for fouling him. The most recent example being the match against Bournemouth where he elbowed an opposition player for apparently stamping on him. Not denying the fact that the stamp was harsh, it led to Zlatan being off his game in the remaining portion of the game. He also missed a crucial penalty which could have seen United going to the fourth of the table or fifth in the least. Now he also faces a prospective 3 match ban from the FA for his actions.

Zlatan should take a cue from Diego Costa who has improved his discipline by leaps and bounds this season. The main man of the team should not give into rash moments of weaknesses. Maybe, on the other hand, United will now be able to experiment more in the absence of the Swedish striker. Jose will be able to weigh his options both long term and short term.

Jose’s options: 

Mourinho should utilise the resources at his disposal to the maximum. Though Rashford and Martial are played as Left wingers, both of them are inherently strikers. Mourinho might be making a mistake by not playing these players in their natural positions. Turning them into makeshift wingers will also hinder any scope of development at their natural positions which may be a big problem in the future.

Also, he should look to substitute Zlatan in some matches. He plays the entire 90 minutes and is not taken off even if he has clearly had a bad game. That hesitation to take him off may have proven costly in a couple of matches. Boldness and a headstrong approach are what is required from Mourinho to deal with the final third problem. With United fighting on 3 fronts, it needs to be season how far they improve their finishing. All that glitters is not always gold, especially when we are talking about the English game.

“I have no individual targets because that I did already after three months in England. I conquered England – it took three months.” – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

These words by the Swedish star probably reflect his achievements in his first season at United. Having scored 15 goals at the end of 26 match weeks, he sits as the fifth highest scorer in the League. He has consistently scored for the Manchester outfit, solving the ever lingering striker problem ever since Van Persie departed. In addition to that, he has gelled well with the team, especially Paul Pogba. All of Pogba’s assists for the Red Devils have come in for Zlatan. He also adds experience to the squad. He has played in leagues across Europe, therefore comes in handy in crunch situations. Zlatan also has a good record when it comes to injuries. He has barely missed a Manchester United game.

Despite all of his glory and glimmer, we need to ask one question: How good has Zlatan really been for Manchester United?

Well, most of the United fans would jump into concluding that the Swedish has been too good. Many will claim that he is the reason why United has been where it is this season. He might also be given credit for progress to the Europa League Round of 16. At the end of the day, there is something we have all been missing. Has Mourinho made enough efforts to evaluate alternatives to Zlatan up front? Has Rashford been given enough starts as a central striker? Why has Rooney not been given a chance to redeem himself?

Should United look at alternatives and give them more chances?
Should United look at alternatives and give them more chances?

The answer to all those questions above borders around a no. Zlatan has been played in almost all the games the Mancunians have played this season.If we look at the League itself, the team has 10 draws and 3 losses. In most of the situations, a draw serves as an evidence of an inadequate attack rather than defence. In United’s case, their defensive record supports the theory that the problem lies in United’s attack.

The Midfield- Attack partnership:

Now that we have established that everything looks okay from the defensive side, let us focus on the transition into attacks via the midfield. United’s midfield is primarily dominated by Herrera, Carrick and Pogba. Their roles are precise and well defined. Carrick is the overall guardian of the defence, making sure the play is in United’s favour. Herrera is the man who runs around and presses players, often doing the dirty work via fouls. Pogba, on the other hand, focuses more towards the goal. His primary job is to get good balls into the box for the front three to score. To be truthful, these three have carried out the given task with perfection and ease. There is barely anything lacking from the midfield setup.

The likes of Mata and Rooney, who are often deployed as CAMs also play their role well whenever needed. Hence, the output provided by the midfield is up to the mark. United has created one of the maximum number of chances in the League, which speaks volumes on behalf of the midfield. Therefore, the problem clearly lies in the final third.

The Wingers and Zlatan: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5ziuNLWlic

This is probably United’s best goals of the season. It might appear to be pretty simple to a lot, but the sheer vision of Mkhitaryan is praiseworthy. The goal was only possible because of two main factors. One, Mkhitaryan’s quick thinking to give such a beautiful through ball. Two, Rashford’s ability to get to the ball quickly. This is one aspect of Zlatan’s game that has hurt United at times. His lack of mobility leaves the wingers without any options up front for such quick moments. The only times Zlatan has been available up front is for Pogba’s long balls.

Zlatan barely has any counter attack goals this season.

Apart from that, United wingers fail to emulate the wing play of the Fergie era where they had players like Rooney with a decent amount of pace up front. United’s counter-attack hasn’t been that effective this season as most of the goals have come from the build-up plays. Hence, playing Zlatan day in and day out without considering Rashford for the same position leaves us missing a mobile link in the attack. United desperately need a quick and agile presence in the centre of its attack, and Zlatan does not make the cut.

Zlatan’s wastefulness: 

Zlatan’s season has been successful this season if the number of goals is a parameter for measurement. With a tally of 26 goals for United, he has been reminiscent of his days in previous leagues. There is one side of his game which we often under ignore under the mask of his apparent brilliance. The aspect in question is his wastefulness. Zlatan has one of the lowest conversion rates among the top strikers. In the Premier League’s stats index, Zlatan has 109 shots in the League. A return of 15 goals from 109 is a conversion rate of around 13%, while Harry Kane maintains a double of that rate(27%).

Zlatan leads in all the negative stats.
Zlatan leads in all the negative stats.

Apart from an undesirable conversion rate, Zlatan has also missed the most number of “Big Chances” this season. A big chance is defined by the Premier League as clear cut chances. Zlatan has missed 17 big chances this season, the second on the list stands at the 8 such misses. This is a worrisome stat as even if he converted half of those 17 chances, United would definitely be in the top 4. His lack of ability to finish easy chances takes away credit from a hardworking and an able midfield. The point being made is that yes, Zlatan has had a good season but hasn’t been extraordinary. We also need to consider that Zlatan has played more games than most top strikers, hence it is natural that he will have a good number of goals.

Discipline issues:

It is common knowledge that no player can get away with fouling Zlatan. He has had a history of fouling opposition players as an act of revenge for fouling him. The most recent example being the match against Bournemouth where he elbowed an opposition player for apparently stamping on him. Not denying the fact that the stamp was harsh, it led to Zlatan being off his game in the remaining portion of the game. He also missed a crucial penalty which could have seen United going to the fourth of the table or fifth in the least. Now he also faces a prospective 3 match ban from the FA for his actions.

Zlatan should take a cue from Diego Costa who has improved his discipline by leaps and bounds this season. The main man of the team should not give into rash moments of weaknesses. Maybe, on the other hand, United will now be able to experiment more in the absence of the Swedish striker. Jose will be able to weigh his options both long term and short term.

Jose’s options: 

Mourinho should utilise the resources at his disposal to the maximum. Though Rashford and Martial are played as Left wingers, both of them are inherently strikers. Mourinho might be making a mistake by not playing these players in their natural positions. Turning them into makeshift wingers will also hinder any scope of development at their natural positions which may be a big problem in the future.

Also, he should look to substitute Zlatan in some matches. He plays the entire 90 minutes and is not taken off even if he has clearly had a bad game. That hesitation to take him off may have proven costly in a couple of matches. Boldness and a headstrong approach are what is required from Mourinho to deal with the final third problem. With United fighting on 3 fronts, it needs to be season how far they improve their finishing. All that glitters is not always gold, especially when we are talking about the English game.

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