The Football Association has charged Manchester United’s ace Zlatan Ibrahimovic for violent conduct following an alleged elbow on Bournemouth AFC defender Tyrone Mings as tempers boiled over in a physical match on the weekend, in which United were frustrated to a 1-1 draw with the bottom side of the Premier League.
This means Zlatan could very well serve an automatic three match suspension, including the FA Cup quarter final tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this weekend, should he choose not to contest the charge.
In spite of the collective groan that can be heard from United fans all the way from Sir Matt Busby Way to Singapore, this could very well be a blessing in disguise and just what both Zlatan and United needs.
Don’t get me wrong. Ibra’s performances have been nothing short of phenomenal this season, as he continues to defy both his age and the critics with match winning performances and a mean streak in front of goal that has seen him top the goal scoring charts in England.
But such has been the club’s reliance on him, that more often than not when he is misfiring, United look lost without him. But that’s the risk Mourinho took when he signed a player as big as Ibra. He knew exactly what he was getting with a player of his calibre, ego and profile, and that he would need to build his team around him in order to be effective, as Zlatan is one of those who commands a starting place in every game where he is fit and available.
So naturally with regularity and consistency comes dependency. For all the times Zlatan has rescued United, United has still yet to look a side capable of pulling their weight in front of goal without him.
While he remains a key player for United, and the management should do everything in their power to keep him at the club beyond this season, these three games without Zlatan would force José to reshuffle his cards to build a more resilient United. One that looks less lethargic, complacent and one dimensional than the outfit that took to the field last weekend.
And for all the cheeky remarks Zlatan’s been giving the media about him being ‘The God of Manchester’, he ain’t no God and he knows that deep down too. A brief respite just ahead of the most crucial period of the season is just what he needs. And United could reap the benefits of his absence in the longer run.