Wednesday 18 October 2017

Jose Mourinho hints at how he will use Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford next season

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford

Mark Critchley

Jose Mourinho has suggested that Zlatan Ibrahimovic's experience and Marcus Rashford's youthful energy could provide him with the perfect strike partnership at Manchester United.

The Portuguese met the media on Tuesday for his first press conference since being appointed as the club's new manager in May and he gave one hint as to how he may set up his forward line.

Mourinho has typically favoured systems which feature just one up front throughout his career but, while speaking to the official television channel MUTV, a piece of mental arithmetic on the part of the former Chelsea, Internazionale and Real Madrid coach suggested his habits could change.

"34 is his [Ibrahimovic's] age, plus 18, Marcus Rashford's age. 34 plus 18 divided by two is the perfect age for a football player," he said.

"So our two strikers are exactly in the perfect age because 18 is not a perfect age, 34 is not, but they are.

"I think they can be an amazing complement for each other," he added.

A system with two strikers up front would be a significant departure for Mourinho, who has built his success on variants of the 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations.

The Portuguese is likely to employ these systems again at Old Trafford, despite his comments on Tuesday, and Ibrahimovic, who joined United last week following the expiration of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, is thought to be Mourinho's first-choice frontman.

The pair worked together during their time at Internazionale and Ibrahimovic has since suggested that, of all the managers he had worked under, Mourinho was the best.

Rashford, meanwhile, whose remarkable rise to prominence was one of the few highlights in United's 2015/16 season, is set to remain part of the first-team squad at Old Trafford.

The teenager will face competition for a starting place from the likes of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whose move from Borussia Dortmund is expected to be finalised in the coming days.

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