Manchester United have spent the last three years attempting to return to the top of English football.
When Sir Alex Ferguson retired from football in 2013 he left a massive pair of shoes to fill in the United hot seat.
Ferguson’s successors David Moyes and Louis van Gaal failed to keep United in contention for the Premier League title.
The appointment of former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is supposed to represent a big change in the Red Devils fortunes.
However, a move that could prove nearly as influential could be the signing of veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer.
An icon needed at United
The great United teams of the past have always had an icon, a player that epitomised the quality of their team. Icons of the past included Bobby Charlton, George Best, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona. These players were winners and brought an aura of confidence with them.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a player that brings the same aura. He is a man that is confident in his own ability and that will lift his teammates. Some have made the comparison between the Swede and Cantona, which is unsurprising, as both are charismatic and have a touch of genius in their game.
Ibrahimovic’s French counterpart’s arrival at Old Trafford signalled an upturn in the Red Devils fortunes. United fans are hoping for a similar sort of impact from Ibrahimovic.
Ageing like a fine wine
I have to admit I have not always been the greatest fan of Ibrahimovic, as he came across as big-headed and self-important. However, in recent years I have come to appreciate his sheer ability as a footballer.
Ibrahimovic has been a success in Holland, Italy, Spain and France, scoring goals and winning silverware. Every club he has played for has won trophies. The veteran Swede is almost a guarantee of trophies.
The 34-year-old has been a prolific scorer of goals for nearly a decade and a half in European football. Incredibly though last season with French club PSG was his most prolific of them all, as he scored 52 goals in all competitions for the club from the French capital.
Some cynics will say that the French Ligue One is not of a great standard, but the striker did score five times in the Champions League as PSG made it to the quarter-finals, only to be knocked out of the competition by Manchester City.
Ibrahimovic seems to be ageing like a fine wine. Despite seemingly approaching the twilight of his career, he still has a lot left in him. As his performance and winning goal in the Community Shield showed against Leicester, Ibrahimovic is far from finished.
Manchester United title contenders
We have not been realistically able to say the above for a while. Under Van Gaal, the Red Devils never really looked likely to threaten the top of the Premier League table.
The Red Devils are odds of 7/2 to win the Premier League title this season. The fact that Mourinho is now in the United hot seat is probably the main reason for those odds.
However, the arrival of a player of Ibrahimovic’s quality at Old Trafford will also influence United’s chances of winning the title this season.
Ibrahimovic may be regarded as a player who is arrogant, but he is also a man that has a big influence both on and off the pitch. He demands a lot of his teammates and will let them know if they are not giving their whole for the team.
Having the experience and winning mentality of the Swede can only help United in the future. Watching a player of Ibrahimovic’s class in training and as a teammate will only help youngsters like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard become better players.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be arriving at Old Trafford at the backend of his career, but he has the chance to show that his career is far from over at United.
The Swedish superstar may just have moved to United at just the right time. He will no doubt have a major influence with the Manchester giants and the pair is a match made in heaven.
Will Zlatan Ibrahimovic help United win the title this season?