Zlatan And Lukaku Can Co-Exist At Manchester United

Old Trafford roared as the Manchester United faithful welcomed back superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic from his long-term knee ligament injury.

Zlatan being Zlatan didn’t miss a step. He raced onto the pitch to tell £75m hitman Romelu Lukaku to play out on the wing and give the Swede the central role. The veteran then came close to scoring with a scissor kick., it was as if he’d never been away.

Yet his interaction with fellow forward Lukaku seems to have caused a bit of a stir.

Sky’s MNF pundit Craig Bellamy said:

“The concern with Zlatan is that he is such a big character, always the main man, wherever he’s been. When Zlatan walks into the room everyone knows he’s there.”

“Would it impact my confidence? I imagine Lukaku really looks up to him. But it could become a problem, the energy Zlatan creates, it will be all about him, and it’s always been that way.”

“Lukaku can’t play anywhere else apart from up front, he can’t play either side, so it’s going to be interesting.”

His fellow pundit Jamie Carragher added:

“I don’t think they can play together as a front two,”

I believe people are making a big deal out of nothing with this incident.

Firstly, Ibrahimovic is still recovering from his injury and United boss Jose Mourinho won’t rush him into starting games, especially in the Premier League. Maybe if they qualify for the Champions League knock-out stages with a game remaining then Jose could start Zlatan against CSKA Moscow in early December.

For the majority of the time, I can only see Ibra coming off the bench making cameo appearances.

Getting the natural born winner and leader in ahead of the hectic festive period will be a great boost for the Man United squad. As they will have a proven goalscorer waiting and itching to get on and prove himself yet again!

They could have done with the thirty-six year old when Romelu was struggling for goals in recent weeks.

I also believe that Zlatan’s role in the team would’ve been discussed between himself and Mourinho before the Swedish legend re-signed with the Red Devils. The Portuguese manager would’ve stated that he’ll get plenty of minutes but unlike last season he won’t be considered an automatic starter and he’s behind Lukaku in the pecking order.

The fact the Belgian was given Zlatan’s number nine jersey should be enough to prove who the number one hitman is going to be this term.

I think Craig Bellamy isn’t quite right when he says that Lukaku can’t play on the wing. He played there with great effect at Everton, especially against Arsenal. He bullies full-backs, towers over them and has the pace to beat them too. Yes he might not be as good with the tracking back aspect but if he’s playing out there then you’d imagine United will have the game already in the bag.

Can they play together up-top? 

Again like Bellamy, I’m not sure Carragher is right on this one either. Firstly, Jose won’t start them together in the biggest of games. But they could do it in certain fixtures as long as Romelu understands his ageing partner’s game.

When you watch Zlatan Ibrahimovic he’ll start as a centre-forward but often he drifts and comes deeper to receive the ball and link up. If Lukaku can keep an eye on that then the twenty-four year old can run in behind and into the space Ibra has just vacated, then the Belgian international forward can find himself through on goal.

By simply stating that Zlatan is too egotistical to function with another striker is underestimating his intelligence. The Swede respects Jose Mourinho and he will already know the game-plan for this season.

I’d also say that Lukaku can learn a hell of a lot from such an illustrious striking partner, he knows he’s the main forward this term and that Zlatan isn’t going to be around for much longer.

So I’m hoping that the forwards show everyone that they’re professional and smart enough to live on the same team and flourish!

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