Tuesday 17 January 2017

Zlatan: We need monster mentality

Jamie Jackson

Published 21/08/2016 | 02:30

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 'The team did well against Southampton and I think we can do much, much more. But it is the second game in the Premier League and a lot of things are new. We have a new coach, new staff, some new players. It is like a puzzle - we need to put the puzzle together and then make it work. I think the outcome will be good' Photo: Reuters / Jason Cairnduff
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 'The team did well against Southampton and I think we can do much, much more. But it is the second game in the Premier League and a lot of things are new. We have a new coach, new staff, some new players. It is like a puzzle - we need to put the puzzle together and then make it work. I think the outcome will be good' Photo: Reuters / Jason Cairnduff

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has urged Manchester United to develop the "monster mentality" he learned from playing alongside Fabio Cannavaro, Patrick Vieira and Gianluigi Buffon at Juventus earlier in his career. Ibrahimovic got both goals in Friday evening's 2-0 victory over Southampton at Old Trafford and so has scored in each of his three matches for United, his tally standing at four.

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United are the early Premier League pacesetters, but Ibrahimovic wants to help his new team-mates - particularly the younger players - to elevate their focus and approach, the Swedish striker drawing on his own experience after joining Juve in 2002, aged 22.

"I played with many big stars," he said. When I came to Juventus I was a young guy. I had Vieira, Cannavaro, [Lillian] Thuram, Buffon, [Alessandro] Del Piero, [David] Trezeguet, [Pavel] Nedved, [Mauro] Camoranesi, Emmerson. It was a monster team, there were so many [greats]. The mentality came from that. The more mature you become - I have two kids now - you take on more responsibility.

"The coach gives me a lot of responsibility and I take it. I am just myself. I am trying to help all the other ones. Outside of the pitch and in the media, is that people judge me before they know me. They write [this] but that doesn't bother me. It is important what the guys think about me. If I can help then I will help."

The 34-year-old said of United's flying start: "The team did well against Southampton and I think we can do much, much more. But it is the second game in the Premier League and a lot of things are new. We have a new coach, new staff, some new players. It is like a puzzle - we need to put the puzzle together and then make it work. I think the outcome will be good."

Ibrahimovic played down his own goal-scoring contribution, saying: "That is not important, the important thing is to win. If the team does good then the individual does good. I am happy for the team. I try to help them in the way I can, by scoring goals and creating chances. If I score, or if it is Eric [Bailly], or somebody else, as long as I win then I will be happy."

United is the eighth club of Ibrahimovic's gilded career and he is unsure if this is his best beginning. "I don't know. I have changed clubs many times, so I don't know the specifics. Let me come back to you on that," he said.

Ibrahimovic's second goal against the Saints was a second-half penalty, the Swede having taken over the spot-kick duties from Wayne Rooney. "We spoke like two weeks ago about it so there was no confusion," he said. "It was decided long before, it wasn't on the pitch."

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