Saturday 10 December 2016

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hails boss Mourinho as a 'mastermind' after agent called Pep 'boring'

Jack Austin

Published 09/09/2016 | 18:33

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had few problems adapting to the Premier League
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had few problems adapting to the Premier League

Manchester United forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hailed manager Jose Mourinho as a ‘mastermind’ and admitted one of his biggest regrets is not getting to play for him for longer during his career.

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Ibrahimovic and Mourinho get their first taste of a Manchester derby when City visit Old Trafford on Saturday as the pair come up against a common foe in Pep Guardiola.

Mourinho has an infamously fractious relationship with the Spaniard while Ibrahimovic fell out with Guardiola during their time at Barcelona together, which led to the Swede calling him a ‘spineless coward’ in his autobiography.

The former Paris Saint-Germain forward also claimed that “Mourinho is Guardiola’s opposite – if Mourinho brightens up the room, Guardiola pulls down the curtains.”

Speaking ahead of the derby, Ibrahimovic said: “Mourinho is a mastermind. He knows everything about the game.

“I do not have many regrets, but I do regret that I did not get to play under Mourinho for longer. When the opportunity came again for him to be my coach at United it was an easy decision.

“Who wouldn’t want to be coached by him? I am at a great club with a great coach and great fans and I want to be as successful as possible for them.”

While the 34-year-old refused to repeat his criticisms of Guardiola, his agent Mino Raiola reignited the war of words with the Manchester City boss on Thursday.

“I don’t like Guardiola,” said Raiola, who is also the agent of fellow summer United arrivals Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

“I do not hate him, but I do not like him. Everyone knows what happened to Zlatan at Barcelona.

“He’s a good coach but his football philosophy seems boring to me. He doesn’t have the guts to sit next to me.”

The clash between United and City has been billed as the most expensive game of football ever, with both sides expected to name a starting XI costing more than £250m each.

But despite the talent on show and both teams currently boasting a 100 per cent record in the Premier League so far, Ibrahimovic is not getting carried away with the occasion and insists the absence of suspended Sergio Aguero will not make City any less dangerous.

“You know when you play the teams at the top that any team they put out is going to be dangerous,” he added.

“These games always mean so much to the fans and we want to win for them, but the players must always be focused.

“Every game must be looked at as an opportunity to win three points whoever the opposition.”

Independent News Service

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