The 34-year-old netted the winner in Man United’s 2-1 over Leicester City to claim the Community Shield, heading home after 83 minutes.
However, despite providing the game’s crucial moment, the Swede cut a peripheral figure as Mourinho’s men struggled to pull apart Leicester’s organised defence.
But Mourinho claims Ibrahimovic’s influence will grow once the team improves throughout the season.
“Zlatan will be more dangerous when we are more dominant and when we play closer to the box,” he said.
“He is not a very fast player to play 50m away from the box like Vardy.”
“Zlatan needs the team to play, to produce and he needs them to arrive in the final third.”
There is, in contrast to last season, a notable increase in attacking desire amongst this current group of players. This Man United side doesn’t want to simply keep the ball; they want to be fast, powerful and penetrative. That much is already clear.
However, today’s game revealed a flaw in Mourinho’s plan – namely that this dominant, aggressive style around the box is impossible when Wayne Rooney acts as the axis of the attack at No.10.
With somebody like Henrikh Mkhitaryan lurking in that role instead, United’s attacking movements would become swift, fluent and incisive, rather than moribund and indecisive. Once United click into that desired rhythm, there’s no over-estimating how much damage the big Swede could inflict.