Paul Ince: Zlatan is one of the greatest of all-time – and already a Manchester United legend, just like Cantona

Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince has hailed Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s impact at the club, while highlighting a similar 'winning' effect from Jose Mourinho

I am…Eric?

The goal Zlatan scored to win Manchester United the League Cup last week is proof of what a talisman does. They needed it and he was there.

When the chips are down, when the team aren’t playing well, that’s the kind of player you need. That was Eric Cantona, and now it’s Ibra. Yes, he’s got an incredible goalscoring record, but it’s not just the goals that make him the icon he is.

Players can rely on him, they know that if a situation arises in that final minute, he’s your man. He’s confident, comfortable and composed in virtually every situation. It looks as though he’s seen it all before. You have to be special to have that confidence, and he has proved he is.

He’s so close to Eric Cantona it’s incredible. His technical ability, his power, his presence and confidence. He has all the attributes you want in a top striker. When you talk about world class strikers, he’s probably the only one in the world that has all of those things.

You talk about Sergio Aguero in the Premier League, there’s no doubting he’s incredible, but he relies on his pace. Harry Kane is brilliant, but he doesn’t have anywhere near the attributes that Ibra does. He’s the best in the league at the moment.

People underestimate just how important having presence is, especially when you play for Manchester United. In my time at the club, there was plenty. Bryan Robson, Cantona, Mark Hughes and a few more. We were spoilt for choice. Nowadays? You don’t see that.

You can see United building that fear, presence and reputation back up again this season. Who do you think that has come from? Zlatan, he’s taken United to a different dimension. Both on and off the pitch.

He should be an example to everyone at the club, from the youngsters to the first team. How you should train, how you should conduct yourself at the club and in life. That’s a true leader.

Zlatan has become United’s true leader this season, not Wayne Rooney.

When he first came in, people were questioning him. Is he too old for the Premier League? Can he actually do it in England? Well, I think he’s proved them all wrong. Categorically yes.

One of the greatest of all time

At the moment, it’s crucial that United keep Zlatan next season. There aren’t many options out there that can match him, and he’s proved what he’s capable of in just one season in Manchester.

Why wouldn’t he want to stay at United? He’s been all around Europe at the top level, he’s at one of the biggest clubs in the world and he’s scoring goals.

Why would he not want to do another year at one of the greatest clubs ever with one of the best mangers in history? He looks happy and comfortable. He says himself he’s feeling good.

There’s rumours he won’t stay if they don’t get Champions League, but he came to the club knowing that they weren’t in the competition. I can’t see his opinion changing, especially after being at the club.

Besides, where is he going to go? He’s not going to go to Barcelona, Real Madrid and he’s been at PSG. It looks as though United have got a great chance of getting in the Champions League, so why not stay and see what he can do there?

Everywhere he’s been he’s scored goals and there’s no doubt he’s one of the greatest strikers of all time. He’s one of the greatest players we’ve ever seen and we so lucky to finally to have him in England.

Just like Eric did, he’s become a Manchester United legend in one season. So few players actually do that. It takes some five, 10, 15 years. He’s an instant legend and it’s a credit to how good he is.

Winning mentality returns once again

I’m not saying Man United are at their absolute best yet, we saw on Sunday that they aren’t. But the fact is, in Jose Mourinho and Zlatan you have two people that are made to win.

They’re born winners and don’t want to accept anything less. They’re spreading that winning mentality back into the club, just like Sir Alex Ferguson did in his years at United.

We’ve seen plenty of times in the past that Mourinho doesn’t necessarily play nice football, but he grinds out results. He knows how to set up his team to win a match, and that winning mentality is spreading.

What do you think?