In classic Zlatan Ibrahimovic style, the Swedish striker quickly bounced back from his depressing international retirement at Euro 2016, taking it upon himself to announce his transfer to Manchester United. Nobody announces Zlatan, Zlatan announces his clubs. It’s the kind of egotistical move that would leave a bad taste in the mouth of Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I came like a king, I left like a legend.”
The Swede’s reflections of his time at Paris Saint-Germain tell you everything you need to know about Zlatan. Old Trafford has changed a great deal in just a short stretch of time, irregardless to establish a reaction anywhere near that from the United faithful would require a miraculous turn around in the Red Devil’s fortunes.
Zlatan, like Mourinho, is a serial championship winner. He has claimed league titles in France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands and Manchester United fans are already dreaming of the success the two European powerhouses can bring. But have the club betrayed the mantras of Sir Alex Ferguson in their quest for success?
In early April, reports emerged that suggested Zlatan Ibrahimovic was angling for a transfer to Manchester United at the end of this season, but only on the condition that Louis van Gaal was sacked by the club:
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) 11 April 2016
Lashing out in his 2011 autobiography, I am Zlatan, the self-assured striker emphasised the strained relationship that had developed between himself and Van Gaal during the period he played under Ronald Koeman at Ajax – Van Gaal was at the club as technical director.
Disappointing results were obviously a factor in Louis Van Gaal’s departure, though his sacking was announced immediately after the eccentric Dutchman secured F.A Cup glory for United. The series of events suggest that Manchester United bent to Zlatan’s will and sacked Van Gaal in order to secure Ibrahimovic’s services.
This stab in the manager’s back goes against every value of club management that Sir Alex stood for during his reign at Old Trafford.
“The minute a Manchester United player thought he was bigger than the manager, he had to go.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
It didn’t matter who you were, David Beckham or otherwise, the moment you considered yourself a more integral part of the team than the manager, you were on your way out. As Sir Alex recounts in his ‘reveal-all’ autobiography, after a verbal disagreement with Becks, the superstar had to leave.
“David thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson. That was the death knell for him.
“David was the only player I managed who chose to be famous, who made it his mission to be known outside the game,
“I felt uncomfortable with the celebrity aspect of his life.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
In dealing with David Beckham, Ferguson stood his ground against a much-loved fan favourite, showing him the door where many other manager’s would have buckled under the weight on club’s support base.
Allowing Ibrahimovic to dictate a board-level decision such as sacking a manager completely undermines any future authoritative figure he is ever faced with as part of the red devils – he will have become “bigger than the manager”.
If indeed, Manchester United sacked Louis Van Gaal in order to meet Zlatan’s Ibrahimovic’s demands, they will have betrayed one of Ferguson’s most sacred mantras of football management.