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Zlatan Ibrahimovic quick to win over doubters at Manchester United

By Jack De Menezes

Published 01/08/2016

Explosive start: Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted an eye-catching early strike
Explosive start: Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted an eye-catching early strike

It took Zlatan Ibrahimovic all of four minutes to silence the Manchester United supporters who believed that the club had taken a risk in signing the 34-year-old to a contract worth more than £200,000-a-week.

The striker delighted the expectant Swedish crowd in United's 5-2 victory over Galatasaray in Gothenburg when he quickly readjusted his feet to volley home Antonio Valencia's cross, capitalising on his creativity and supreme confidence to reach a ball that was delivered behind him and open his United account, albeit with a mis-hit that struck his shin and dug into the turf en route to the net.

Yet despite the ego and everything that goes with being Zlatan, there were signs that even he was trying to impress Jose Mourinho. He raced back to tackle Selcuk Inan, only to concede a foul yards outside of the United area. Instead of making his way towards the halfway line, where he was repeatedly spotted during Euro 2016 while Sweden attempted to defend their goal, the forward was in the heart of the defensive line, attempting to pick up Galatasaray striker Sinan Gumus.

He failed. Gumus gave Ibrahimovic the slip and headed in the Turks' equaliser.

Still, it was an impressive display yet the introduction of Marcus Rashford at half-time sparked United back into life after they had gone behind to a Bruma goal and his pace tormented Galatasaray's back line to provide opportunities for his teammates as well as himself. It was Rashford's break that won the penalty for Wayne Rooney to send United back into the lead, three minutes after he netted his first to level the scores.

So how does Mourinho get the best of them both? It's inconceivable to see Mourinho start without Ibrahimovic at Bournemouth in two weeks' time, but in-between now and that curtain-raising fixture comes two more games against Everton and Leicester City, the latter in the Community Shield at Wembley.

The problem is that Rashford's inclusion will only come as the result of dropping either Rooney or Anthony Martial, with the more reasonable decision being the England and United captain.

This simply isn't going to happen, at least not at the start of the season. Having attempted twice to sign Rooney in a clear ambition to work with the forward, why would he choose against that option now?

With the match against Everton a testimonial for Rooney and the Community Shield the first chance for Mourinho to secure a trophy at his new club, Rashford's unlikely to get the chance to play alongside Ibrahimovic. Yet it might be exactly what United need, however much Mourinho wants to prove he can bring the best out of Rooney after years of frustration for United's former poster boy.

Belfast Telegraph

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