The limits to what Ibra can achieve in his first Man Utd season
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was presented with a perfect setting for his first Manchester United appearance, stepping out in front of his compatriots in Gothenburg for a friendly against Galatasaray, and the performance came close to rivalling it.
It took only four minutes for the Swedish superstar to offer a glimpse of his capabilities, netting with a trademark acrobatic effort. His new colleagues followed the example, with Wayne Rooney (twice), Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata making their own impressions on the scoreline in a 5-2 triumph.
Even those who were initially sceptical about his signing – how would he adapt to the Premier League, was he past his peak at 34, was he just a short-term fix, would he disrupt the dressing room, what about all the other shortcomings in the squad – might allow themselves to get a little excited.
The potential impact of the 13-time league winner certainly isn’t being underestimated by the bookmakers, as he is judged the 8/1 third favourite to be Premier League top goalscorer.
There are several reasons to be enticed by such a bet. Last term was the most prolific yet of his career with 38 league strikes and he has been his division’s top scorer in five of the past eight seasons, including his one to date under the guidance of Jose Mourinho at Inter in 2008-09.
Firstly, no player has won the Golden Boot in their first Premier League campaign since Kevin Phillips in 1999-00. Robin van Persie is the sole man in the past 15 years to do it in his first season with a new club even.
Secondly, Man Utd have a far worse record when it comes to claiming top goalscorer accolades – five in 24 years, and a mere three of those outright – than they do with titles – 13 in 24.
Thirdly, Mourinho has a similar team-over-individual tendency as his new employers, spending seven seasons at Stamford Bridge over his two spells as Chelsea boss yet seeing just one on his forwards booted up, Didier Drogba in 2006-07, and that honour arrived instead of a title.
A Blues striker was top goal-getter in the first two full campaigns after he was ditched – Nicolas Anelka in 2008-09 and Drogba in 2009-10 – and Diego Costa is 16/1 to keep that pattern alive.
One final reason to be dubious is that despite Ibrahimovic being a five-time league top scorer, the eight-club icon only achieved the feat at the first attempt with one of his first seven sides.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.