After a couple of questionable performances over the last couple of weeks, which include losses to Chelsea and promoted Huddersfield which again was preceded by a drab 0-0 draw against Liverpool, Man United were back to their best as they beat Newcastle 4-1.
The return of record signing Paul Pogba grabbed the headlines as he put on a top performance to help his team overturn the early goal of Dwait Gayle. Rafa Benitez’s side took the lead with the first league goal Man United conceded at Old Trafford this season. But it was Mourinho’s men who prevailed at the end.
Pogba got an assist and a goal. He also conducted Man United’s attack with his range of passing and added that little bit of flair that was missing from their game of late. However, Pogba wasn’t the only big name returning from injury. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been out since April and his return will propel United to newer heights which can eventually enable them to catch their high flying neighbours.
Man United have secured 24 year old Romelu Lukaku in the summer and his life at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ got off to a flyer as he grabbed 11 goals in 10 games but the Belgian struggled for goals before he ended his dry spell at the weekend.
Lukaku didn’t score in the big games against Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea. The team’s defensive approach in those games makes a lone criticism of the striker far-fetched but we have learned that the young striker still has room for improvement.
This is where Zlatan comes in. He is the presence Man United needs up front when they are struggling for goals against decent oppositions. The man who was involved in a total of 37 goals last season can provide the X-factor.
The Swede’s return can also mean that Man United can play with two strikers up front which adds flexibility to their approach.
The confidence and winning mentality of the 36 year old is immense and very much needed at this vital stage of the season. He is the type of man you need in the dressing room for a team looking to win the league for the first time since 2013.
Expectations are high for Mourinho’s second season and the Portuguese manager can look to his experienced striker for options. Lukaku can also raise his game given that there is a world class competition for his place.
For all the optimism and thrill Pogba’s display on Saturday brought it can be Zlatan who will determine Man United’s season on the long run. And if there is one thing we have learned from Zlatan, be it his premature recovery from a serious injury or his remarkable debut season in England, is to never underestimate ‘The Lion’.
Written by Brook Genene
Follow Brook on Twitter @brookge
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