Ray Wilkins explains why Manchester United missed Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Liverpool

Ray Wilkins explains why Manchester United missed Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Liverpool

Former Manchester United midfielder and Chelsea assistant coach Ray Wilkins believes Jose Mourinho missed the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the 0-0 draw with Liverpool.

Romelu Lukaku went into the clash with 11 goals already under his belt this season but spurned his only chance of the game following some good work from Anthony Martial, firing a tame shot straight at Simon Mignolet.

Ibrahimovic, on the other hand, doesn’t look as if he will feature for Man United until January despite reports hinting towards an early return to action.

And Wilkins, speaking on Sky Sports on Monday, noted that United missed the Swede’s big game presence at Anfield over the weekend.

“He [Lukaku] got himself into a good area and he didn’t have to rush it and could take his time,” he said.

“I really did think that he would put that one way. I’ve got a little feeling Ibrahimovic might have finished that. I think he will score a bunch when he plays against the top six. I don’t think it matters with Lukaku.

“Manchester United have got so many options to create chances for him that he’s going to have bundles of chances and he will score a bucketload, I’m sure.”

Up until Saturday, the Swede’s role in this rampant United side seemed unclear. Where, amongst all the speed and aggression, would his unique style fit in?

And Lukaku’s performance, for all the questions it conjured up, provided the answer. The Belgian is a powerful, diligent force going forward, but fell short when charged with the responsibility of holding up the ball and bringing teammates further up the pitch.

Needless to say, Zlatan would have done this way more efficiently. His sheer control, mixed with a kind of big game intelligence that can only be honed through experience, may have just been what the visitors needed to free themselves from  the perpetual defensive bondage they found themselves in at Anfield.

The 36-year-old looks likely to be a crucial factor when United make trips to Wembley and the Ethiad next year.

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Leo is a regular contributor to The Peoples Person's match day coverage and is still mourning the loss of Danny Welbeck to Arsenal.