When he signed for Manchester United on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain last summer all the so-called football experts unanimously called Zlatan Ibrahimović a wasted signing. That the then 34-year-old striker was past his prime and that he would struggle to get 10 goals in the best league in the world.
Yet here we are in mid-February and Ibrahimović has 24 goals in all competitions, including 18 in his last 20 games. In the last four days he has single-handily kept United’s treble dreams alive by scoring a hat-trick against St Etienne on Thursday in the Europa League and the winner against Blackburn in the FA Cup on Sunday.
No wonder then that Jose Mourinho praised substitutes Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba for showing the attitude needed to carry United into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
“I think the attitude of every player was really good” Mourinho told BT Sport,
‘When I have important players on the bench, I can try to make an impact. It depends also on their mentality and they were more than ready to come with the right attitude for the team.’
Ibrahimovic afterwards was full of praise for the effort that Blackburn out in:
‘Every game is unpredictable,’ the Swede said. ‘Since I came to England every game – especially in this FA Cup – is like a final.
‘It doesn’t matter if they play in the Championship. So many games have not gone to the favourites. We don’t underestimate anybody.
‘The team did well before the changes too but in the second half, me and Paul came in to boost that up a bit. He gave a great ball and I scored a goal.
‘We are happy with the win. We are still in every tournament. We will keep working hard, keep going and now is the decisive moment.’