The Swede arrived at Old Trafford back in July, signing on a free transfer after his contract with Paris Saint Germain expired over the summer.
Many questioned Zlatan’s ability to impose himself on English football, pointing towards the Premier League’s notorious speed and physicality, but the 35-year-old has emphatically silenced doubters with 14 goals in 24 appearances.
Mourinho, speaking after Man United’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, claimed he warned the Swede over the nature of English football ahead of his arrival in July.
“I knew the character – because at his age I think it’s character – the personality, the passion that plays, the quality is there,” he said.
“I knew he could do what he is doing here, lots of passion. I told him England is not the best place for holidays – when a rich guy with a phenomenal career wants holidays, he doesn’t come to England.
“You come to England if you want to be in the most difficult league in the world, if you want to prove yourself and show what you can do.
“So his decision to come was based on that, so I’m really happy because it’s not just about goals. His goals, his leadership, his motivation, I’m really happy.”
Louis van Gaal‘s first season at Old Trafford saw Wayne Rooney claim the title of top goalscorer with just 14 goals. This time around, in Mourinho’s first season, Zlatan has matched that total before Christmas.
On paper, the idea of a 35-year-old striker moving to a major Premier League side would be nonsensical – and this is exactly how many initially treated Zlatan’s arrival. Then again, his performance at Selhurst Park – packed with superb hold-up play, strength, power, precision, and of course a late winner – once again reinforced what many have said throughout the striker’s career: doubt Zlatan at your peril.