EFL Cup 2016/17: Jamie Carragher blasts Zlatan Ibrahimovic's performance and calls it the worst 45 minutes of his career
Even as Manchester United secured a 1-0 victory over city rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford to progress to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup, doubts continued over the form of United’s star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The former Swedish international looked tired and sluggish in the first half of the match, and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher didn’t hold back in his criticism of the striker.
Zlatan’s worst 45 minutes
During the half time interval, Jamie Carragher said, “I don’t think Zlatan Ibrahimovic has probably had a worse 45 minutes than that in his career. He’s getting wound up by them (Manchester City). Jose Mourinho has been getting a lot of stick in the last few weeks, the manager always does, but we’re talking about a fella who got 50 goals last season.”
Ibrahimovic gave his teammates a few scares in the first half, regularly gifting possession to Manchester City in dangerous areas of the pitch.
His most glaring error was when he played a careless pass across the United midfield just seconds before half time, and Kelechi Iheanacho almost went one on one with David de Gea after intercepting the ball.
Ibra was a lot better in the second half, says Carragher
As the score remained 0-0 at the break, Zlatan’s performance was indeed symbolic of Manchester United’s lack of cutting edge in attack in the first half.
However, there were marginal improvements in Zlatan’s performance in the second half, as Carragher himself said during the post-match analysis, “I think in the second half he improved, even though he probably should have scored to kill the game at the end. But it was a lot better from him.”
Ibrahimovic’s main qualities – physical strength and good awareness of space – were what made the difference in the match in the second half as he legitimately muscled Nicolas Otamendi off the ball while challenging for a header, and rolled a pass into the box for Ander Herrera which was eventually slotted into the net by Juan Mata.
United play West Ham in the quarter-finals
Manchester United now play West Ham United in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup, after the Hammers put in an impressive display at the London Stadium to win 2-1 and knock Chelsea out of the tournament.
However, the priority for Jose Mourinho would be to first improve United’s league form, as he finds his team languishing in 7th place after already losing to rivals Chelsea and Manchester City, and only managing a draw against Liverpool earlier in the season.
If the Red Devils are to save their already troubled season, Ibrahimovic would need to turn his form around and start banging in the goals once again.