“The legend can still deliver,” proclaimed Zlatan Ibrahimovic last summer. And the legend did deliver. In a thrilling EFL Cup final it was the 35-year-old striker who, of course, had the last word as he collected his first trophy at Manchester United and the first for manager Jose Mourinho.
This competition is where it all began in England for Mourinho 12 years ago, when he won the League Cup in his first season as Chelsea manager, as part of a new era of success, and he will demand the same at United, although his overriding emotion appeared to be one of relief. After the trauma of being sacked by Chelsea, the ultimate trophy-hunter is back on the winning trail.
The fact that United were incredibly fortunate to win this final, as Southampton dominated the match and were denied a perfectly good goal by a terrible offside decision when the game was scoreless, will be almost airbrushed. History will show that United won, that Mourinho has now won four League Cups – to equal the record of Sir Alex Ferguson, who was in attendance, and Brian Clough – and became the first manager to win a trophy in his first season in charge of United.