Jose Mourinho has a task on his hand of finding a way to play Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic together, according to former Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher.
Zlatan made a return to the United set-up after a 7-month injury lay-off. After a successful first season at Old Trafford, where the 35-year-old bagged 28 goals in 46 games for the side. But his injury at the closing stages meant United had to go in for a younger striker.
In the summer, the Portuguese got in Romelu Lukaku from Everton after initially chasing Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, who later joined Chelsea. The Belgian’s instant success at the club was cheered by fans and critics alike, but since the past few matches, he hasn’t quite found it happening.
Many hoped once Zlatan returned, the duo could link up well and torment defenders. Two matches have gone by where the former Sweden international got some minutes on the pitch since his return last week.
And now, in a column in The Telegraph, Carragher shared his perspective on the issues the duo might face playing together for United during the upcoming games.
In last week’s 4-1 win against Newcastle, once Zlatan came on, he immediately signaled Lukaku to shift on the right flank, and against Basel, he played as a holding No. 10. Those were definite Jose Mourinho tactics, but Carragher stated what could go in the respective players’ minds.
Carragher claimed that Zlatan must be watching Lukaku’s early impact closely, and there are mental challenges players face with the time in their career.
“I know how Ibrahimovic felt during his rehabilitation, studiously watching Lukaku’s early performances. Longer term, Lukaku will become No 1 choice by virtue of age, 35-year-old Ibrahimovic being in the final years of his career,” said the ex-Liverpool man.
He also added that players think about themselves a lot in certain situations.
“But I also know how players really feel when their position is threatened. Ultimately, they think about themselves. You do not get to the level of Ibrahimovic and Lukaku without being single-minded. Yes the team comes first… as long as you are in it.”
Written by Rajdeep Saha
Sports journalist with stints across print, digital and television. Contribution to each medium has been thrilling. Experienced in writing for this passionate game called football. Journalist by choice and passion.