Former Manchester United midfielder Ray Wilkins believes that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suffering from a lack of confidence following a lengthy goal drought at Old Trafford.
The Swede, who arrived on a free transfer after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expired in the summer, has failed to score in each of United’s last six games in the Premier League.
His dry spell continued in the disappointing 0-0 draw with Burnley on Saturday – meaning that Jose Mourinho’s men have now gone four matches without registering a win – with the 35-year-old notably a spurning a great opportunity when one on one with Tom Heaton.
Wilkins thinks that result dealt the Red Devils’ title hopes an early blow with Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea all picking up three points, and feels that Ibrahimovic has experienced a loss of belief in his ability.
“Zlatan looks like he’s suffering from a lack of confidence,” Wilkins said.
“He doesn’t look as if he’s very confident when he’s in on goal. There was a fantastic give-and-go that he did with Paul Pogba (against Burnley) and I thought if he’d just rip through the ball then he must score.
“But he didn’t. He tried to side-foot it and it went for a corner-kick. At the start of the season he was smashing those in.
“At Old Trafford, against Burnley, United would be expected to take three points. They’ve dropped further behind the big boys and it’s a setback. It wasn’t the best result.”
Ibrahimovic arrived with big expectations after scoring 156 goals in 180 appearances for PSG, including a whopping 52 last season as the club raced away with the Ligue 1 title – finishing 31 points clear of their nearest challengers – while also capturing the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France.
The former Internazionale and Juventus striker hit the ground running in England – scoring the winner on his debut against Leicester City in the FA Community Shield as he netted five times in his first five appearances.
However, he has only been on target once in United’s next 11 games in all competitions – grabbing the decisive goal against FC Zorya Luhansk in the UEFA Europa League last month – with his drought coinciding with his side’s downturn in form.
Nevertheless, Wilkins is in no doubt of the Swede’s ability and insists that he needs time to adapt after stepping up to the higher standards of the English top-flight.
Freebetsmate.com are actually tipping Zlatan to leave Man U come the end of the season, which doesn’t show much faith in the players ability to succeed not only at Man U but perhaps the Premier League too – is English football too quick for him?
“He scored 52 in 50 games last year. He’s a phenomenal centre-forward and I was delighted when United bought him,” he added.
“But the Premier League is not an easy division. We have seen the coaches saying it – even Pep Guardiola – that every game is different.”