Zlatan a breath of fresh air to EPL
Rooney is the captain, but Ibra is the charismatic leader United lacked
MAN UNITED 5
(Zlatan Ibrahimovic 4, Marouane Fellaini 62, Wayne Rooney 55, 58-pen, Juan Mata 74)
(Sinan Gumus 22, Bruma 40)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was once asked what he intended to buy his wife for her birthday.
"Nothing," he said.
"She already has Zlatan."
The same could be said for the English Premier League.
To paraphrase the title of his autobiography, he is Zlatan.
Accept no substitutes. He's the one, perhaps the only one, that English football eagerly needs.
In an obscene transfer market, sums of money are moving around faster than Pokemon Go chasers, but the names involved all pale in comparison to Manchester United's main man.
Make no mistake, Ibrahimovic is the main man in Manchester, at least until Paul Pogba shows up.
Last month, the Swede appointed himself the "God of Manchester", which is a tad premature even for a player who doesn't believe he walks on water. He glides.
There was certainly a touch of the divine about his first United goal yesterday morning (Singapore time) in the 5-2 pre-season friendly win over Galatasaray.
It wasn't so much the overhead scissors kick, but the attempt itself, the thought process that separates the timid from the titans.
Footballers concern themselves with finishing, but that's never enough for Ibrahimovic. He must finish with a flourish.
Antonio Valencia's cross was just behind the Swede. So the striker adjusted his body, rather than his expectations. He swivelled to make the sublime possible.
Ibrahimovic required only four minutes to demonstrate that age is just a number, rather than a state of mind.
The 34-year-old comes close to the definitive Jose Mourinho striker. He's both an immovable object and an unstoppable force of creativity.
This season, Mourinho, United and even the EPL really need the uncensored, unpredictable Swede, perhaps more than all three parties would care to admit.
In Mourinho's case, he has too many stylish doodlers and not enough athletic craftsmen, not to mention a suspect defence in search of a spine.
The Portuguese perfectionist adores a leader, an unapologetic flinty-eyed warrior who rallies the dressing room and wins his personal battles in the tunnel.
Against Galatasaray, even United teammates were clearly in awe of the pony-tailed perfect specimen.
Ibrahimovic's wonderful reaction to Marcus Rashford's penalty-winning run has already gone viral, but it's the response of others that's really worth watching.
Rising in the dugout, the substituted striker applauds. He nods. He does a weird, wide-eyed thing that left colleagues giggling, but left no one in any doubt about the new balance of power.
Ander Herrera's startled, open-mouthed reaction as the Swede towered over him brought back memories of the Class of 92 and Eric Cantona.
Once the French master entered the dressing room, school was in session. Cantona talked. They listened.
United have lacked a charismatic leader of such magnitude since Roy Keane, but Ibrahimovic is cut from the same competitive cloth. In Zlatan, they trust.
In terms of leadership, Wayne Rooney looks a pussycat in comparison. That armband may soon resemble a hollow crown as the Swede inevitably seizes centre-stage.
Indeed the current skipper could find himself in a familiar, precarious position.
Mourinho's starting line-up hinted that the attacking quartet of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial, Rooney and Ibrahimovic will be his favoured four, but Rashford's explosive pace in the second half turned the contest in United's favour.
The possibility of linking the pacey youngster with the raging gunslinger must appeal as the duo would neatly combine speed, skill and iron will.
But Mkhitaryan on the right and Martial on the left leaves Rooney the odd man out.
At best, he ends up in the No. 10 role he publicly covets, even if Mourinho may privately disagree.
Still, Ibrahimovic and Rashford might make a cute couple next season. But the really productive partnership promises to be Ibrahimovic and the EPL.
The Swede speaks and acts as he plays, confidently, instinctively and creatively. Like an overhead scissors-kick, he'll always opt for the outlandish and reach for the extreme.
Sometimes, he'll fail. The occasional failure is an occupational hazard for the true maverick because he knows that the greater crime is blandness.
As long as the Swede is involved, a United fixture should never be boring.
For Ibrahimovic, to play safe is to not play at all.
Ibrahimovic predicts 'big things' for United
Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes "something big" is happening at Manchester United and feels it will become even more interesting if they sign Paul Pogba.
The Red Devils have been chasing the signature of their former academy graduate for some time, but negotiations with Juventus over a potentially record-breaking deal are taking their time.
However, Ibrahimovic, who moved to Old Trafford on a free transfer this summer after leaving Paris St Germain, is already looking forward to the arrival of the France international.
"We have something big going on," he told Swedish television station Kanal 5 after United's 5-2 friendly victory over Galatasaray in Gothenburg yesterday morning (Singapore time), in which Ibrahimovic scored after just 195 seconds in his first appearance for the club.
"It looks very interesting. Let's see if Pogba will also (come), then it will be even more interesting."
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Adnan Januzaj were not included in the travelling party to Sweden and are set to be the first casualties of manager Jose Mourinho's clear-out.
Of the players who did travel, Mourinho gave most of them a chance to impress with the Portuguese making 11 changes in the second half against Galatasaray.
Asked if the players who came on showed they want to be in his plans, Mourinho told MUTV: "If they were not in my plans, I would not give them a single minute, I would not keep them in my squad.
"The squad are very competitive, the squad are very important for the season.
"We have 38 matches in the English Premier League, we have the possibility of 15 matches in the Europa League, plus domestic cups, we are going to play 60 matches. So with 60 matches, we cannot do it with 11 players.
"So to be in the squad, you have to understand that the squad are more important than the individual.
"The club are more important than all of us and, to be in the squad, you have to be ready for this, to play, not to play, play a lot, play less, play 90 minutes, play one minute, not be selected, everything is part of a squad life." - PA Sport.