Zlatan Ibrahimovic

How Zlatan Ibrahimovic became Wayne Rooney’s Biggest Nightmare at Old Trafford

Without much debate, Wayne Rooney was pretty much a spent force by the time Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived Manchester United. Nevertheless, it was the Swedish striker who put the final nails in the casket of Rooney’s ailing Manchester United career.

Fans of Wayne Rooney would argue that the ceremonial Manchester United captain still has a career at the Red side of Manchester, but truth be told, the 31-year-old is finished with the Red Devils.

To his credit, Rooney would go down in Manchester United’s folklore as one of the greatest players to ever adorn a United jersey. He remains the club’s record goalscorer and has won every winnable trophy at club level with the 13-time Premier League Champions. However, just like burning coal that crumbles to cold ash, Rooney’s career has nosedived inexplicably.

Rooney’s decline didn’t start today, cast your mind back to 2013; the England captain got overlooked by Sir Alex Ferguson in that crunch Champions League round of 16, second leg tie against Real Madrid – United lost 2-1 under dubious circumstances. Rooney came on as a sub in the 70th minute to little respite. An unnamed member of United's coaching staff was heard to roar after the game: "Wayne, you gave away the ball four f***g times in 10 minutes!"

When Robin Van Persie joined Manchester United in 2012, his coming didn’t by any means eclipse Rooney, although we saw the England record scorer being dropped to midfield to accommodate the Dutchman. Rooney still played 37 games and scored 16 goals. This is opposed to the 25 league games he played and 5 goals he scored following Zlatan Ibrahimovic's signing last season.

The arrival of the former Juventus centre-forward raised questions on where Rooney would fit in at Manchester United.

Following a devastating cruciate ligament injury, Zlatan Ibrahimović has long left United, but here’s how he made Rooney become an afterthought at Old Trafford, signalling the beginning of the end of Rooney’s cult heroism at Old Trafford.

Zlatan Ibrahimović’s intimidating persona

Ibrahimovic's air of domineering superiority was evident within the first week of signing for Manchester United. His reply to Eric Cantona referring to him as the Prince of Manchester was:

I won't be King of Manchester. I will be the god of Manchester."

Everyone seemed to come under Ibrahimović’s shadow and that included Rooney. In his defence, there was little or nothing he could do about Zlatan’s aura, however, the Swede was so popular because Rooney was no longer the player he once was.

Zlatan delivered the goods

If Zlatan Ibrahimovic can be known for anything during his time with Manchester United, it’s his goalscoring prowess. Very much unlike Rooney, the former Paris Saint-Germain striker has sparkled brilliantly since he turned 30 and wasn’t going to stop upon joining United.

So, in a season which Rooney continued to struggle to make any sort of meaningful impact for the 2008 Champions League winners, Zlatan Ibrahimović just couldn’t stop scoring goals. The result was an obscure figure of Wayne Rooney all season.

Unwavering faith in the big Swede

“Sorry Wayne, no one’s gonna depend on you with Zlatan here!” Such was the amount of faith of Manchester United fans on the former Ajax star; even the manager anointed him the main attack Arrowhead for the season. That left Rooney where? Nowhere, if you ask me. He didn’t fit into United’s attacking midfield, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata and even Paul Pogba would play better in that position.

With Zlatan Ibrahimović up front, Rooney was reduced to a bit-part player for United last season; as a result, the most capped outfield English player found himself unable to make England squad to World Cup qualifiers.

With Manchester United desperately in search of a new striker, it’s now common knowledge that Rooney’s Manchester United career is over and it’s best he finds a new club if he hopes to make the England squad for the World Cup.

About the Author Kingsley

I am a football/soccer connoisseur who enjoys crafting interesting articles like the one you just read.

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