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Ian Wright: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is carrying Manchester United this season

by Leo Nieboer

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright believes that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has “carried” Manchester United under Jose Mourinho this season.

The Swede has claimed 26 goals this season, with his most recent – an 87th minute header against Southampton – being enough to his side the first trophy of the Mourinho era.

Speaking after the 3-2 win over Claude Puel’s side, Mourinho was quick to admit that Ibrahimovic’s contributions won the cup for Man United.

And Wright has claimed that the 35-year-old, now with seven goals in his last five games, is indeed carrying this current United side.

“He is one person who can back up his confidence,” Wright said.

“I didn’t ever doubt he would score goals and the goals he scored early on in the season disguised the fact he wasn’t holding it up and linking up the play as well as he should have been.

“That was him getting used to the Premier League. He’s used to it now. He carried the team.”

The idea of a player ‘carrying’ a particular team has been around since day one, but does it actually make any sense?

Certain players are charged with the responsibility of scoring goals for the side. That is their central purpose; it is why they are in the team.

Why, then, do we look at Zlatan – who is, by definition, just doing his job spectacularly well – and claim that the Swede is single handedly carrying the entire United side? Couldn’t it be that there is a difference between somebody fulfilling their role within a particular set-up and somebody quite literally winning every game by themselves?

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