Wednesday 25 April 2018

John Giles: There's a compelling reason why Jose Mourinho might come to view Zlatan's injury as a blessing

Read John Giles every week in The Herald

Manchester United's Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets treatment after injuring his knee
Manchester United's Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets treatment after injuring his knee
John Giles

John Giles

When fate hands you a gift, it would be foolish to reject it and Jose Mourinho has fallen on his feet when it comes to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

I said it last week that Mourinho might come to view the great man’s injury as a blessing and already, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have provided evidence that this will be the case.

The difference between Manchester United with Zlatan and without is chalk and cheese. When he’s playing, he slows the game down because he comes deep and looks for the ball. It’s hard to play a fast counter-attack in those circumstances. Without him, Rashford and Martial were free to use their pace.

I understand completely that while Mourinho was finding his feet, Ibrahimovic was a lifeline and it is often very hard for a manager to switch from something which is relatively successful to something which is a gamble.

Handing young players a big responsibility is always a punt but when forced to do it, Mourinho saw immediate benefits. I’m pretty sure his eyes have been opened on this one and that he would not have willingly chosen to play either Rashford or Martial up front but Mourinho is no fool and he will take full advantage.

He has Manchester City in his sights tonight and his team is on a roll.

Don’t be surprised if the Top Four battle becomes very tight indeed over the next few days.

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