Manchester United welcomed back their new talisman from suspension against Everton on Tuesday night and the move instantly paid dividends as Zlatan scored a penalty with the last kick of the game.
This ended a frustrating night for Manchester United in which they once more huffed and puffed but failed to blow the Everton house down.
They did at least keep their five month unbeaten Premier League record intact but there is a toothlessness up top which needs addressing.
As for Zlatan himself, he was quoted pre-match as saying this about his own contract negotiations with Manchester United.
“Listen, if I had something to say I would already have said it. We are talking. Whether we were far from each other or close to each other, there is no news. There are still talks and let’s see what will happen. I am open. Nothing is done yet.”
And he then went on to speak about the status quo at Old Trafford and the fact that the team still seriously needs to improve.
“I came here without the Champions League. I came here with the team as it was. It was not a team that was favourite to win. I still came. I came to help. I came to do what I am able to do. To make it better. To bring the team to higher views so let’s see what happens.”
He continued in a more positive light but this is clearly a born winner who isn’t accustomed to coming second:
“We are doing everything to create chances and to take our chances,” he said. “The table of the competition is not lying. The team is what it is and we have done I think a great season and we have won two out of five trophies and have two more to play for. If we got those points we would be higher but I think we have done great we have done good for the team that is and then the table is not lying. If we would be higher the team would be better, yes, but it is what it is.
“We have to be realistic. We have been working hard. There are still two months to go. A lot of things can happen. Of course we want to get the win. The nice thing is that we have not been losing for a lot of games, so it is what it is and if we would have been a team for no.1 spot, we would be No.1 today.”
Zlatan scored his 26th goal of the season with that calmly taken penalty against a stubborn Everton side – his 16th in the league.
He remains a powerful attacking tool with wonderful feet. But much like when Ruud van Nistelrooy was at the club his presence makes Manchester United quite predictable in their attacking play. It seems to be a case of looking for Zlatan and hoping that he can do something with it in the final third despite his lack of pace.
Manchester United are now in serious danger of not reaching the top four in the title race. With nine games to play they are now four points behind fourth placed Manchester City.The Europa League is looking ever more like their best bet to get into Europe’s elite competition next season. United play Anderlecht in the first leg of the quarter final next week.