Former Arsenal star and pundit Paul Merson has named Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the one player Manchester United miss at the moment.
The ex-Gunner has been heavily critical of United players in the wake of Mourinho’s departure from Old Trafford this week, and says a character and leader in the dressing room like Ibra would not have allowed levels to drop like they have.
Many will have their differing opinions on Mourinho and his time at United, and while he could have done things better, it’s fair to say he was also not dealt the best hand either.
Aside from the transfer debacle stories that have done the rounds, Mourinho has come into the club at a time when many of the biggest characters have left the dressing room.
Ibrahimovic, one of Mourinho’s first signings, is of course one of those, while saying goodbye to the likes of Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick can’t have helped either.
This is particularly true given the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Ryan Giggs also all left the playing squad in quick succession after the blow of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
There have been so many ins and outs since then that it’s little surprise Mourinho struggled with the overall character of the dressing room, and Merson is right that an old head and Mourinho loyalist like Ibrahimovic seems to be exactly what was missing.
Here’s Merson’s Daily Star rant in full:
‘They are paid so much they think they are bigger than the manager.
‘They stopped listening to Mourinho a long time ago. You watch them this week.
‘They will be running around like maniacs desperate to do well for the new manager. Where was their desire against Liverpool? It’s easy street. They don’t care.
‘It’s like they’ve just accepted they can’t compete with Manchester City and that Liverpool have gone past them.
‘I think they miss Zlatan Ibrahimovic in that dressing room. I really do. He would not have stood for that. He’s the kind of personality they need. A leader.
‘Leicester won the Premier League title through pure hard work. Where is the desire in these United players?
‘They need to take a long, hard look at themselves. They have let Mourinho down because they don’t like the way he behaves.
‘But he’s a winner. Are they? They’re going to have to start proving it now.’