Tuesday 21 November 2017

'Pogba can deal with Twitter emoji pressure' - Zlatan jumps to defence of Manchester United team-mate

Zlatan with Pogba after draw against Liverpool
Zlatan with Pogba after draw against Liverpool

Simon Peach

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Paul Pogba can cope with the constant focus at Manchester United, with the veteran striker finding such external pressure child's play compared to his own high standards.

Jose Mourinho's men are on a 16-match unbeaten run having overcome a bumpy start to the season, thanks in no small part to key players hitting form.

Ibrahimovic's impressive goalscoring run continued with the late header that secured a 1-1 draw against bitter rivals Liverpool, although Pogba's impressive recent form deserted him on Sunday.

The world's most expensive player appeared to lack the confidence that had grown in recent weeks and conceded a penalty on an afternoon when the pitchside advertising boards promoted his #Pogba Twitter hashtag.

"Pressure is something I enjoy," Ibrahimovic said. "I don't know Paul personally to be able to answer that for him. But I think he likes it also because, without pressure, we would not be on our toes at the top level.

"If you want to play at the top, pressure is 24 hours, and if you play well or better the pressure becomes even greater.

"So it's something that we learn from and something we have to handle because we belong to the top, Paul belongs to the top absolutely and the pressure will be there."

Asked if the Twitter emoji adverts heap too much pressure on Pogba, Ibrahimovic said: "I think football is like that today. With the social media, the media building up the game.

"When I started to play football there was no social media, none of these things. But it's part of the game now. What is too much, what is too less? We don't know. We just follow the game. We are professional, we train like always, try to do our best every game.

"For Paul (on Sunday) the game was different. It was a dirty game, in the way we had to play more direct, by jumping over the midfield because the pressure Liverpool put on us was hard.

"It was difficult. The first game against them was the same. The guys told me every game we play against Liverpool looks like this."

There will no doubt be extra focus on Pogba heading into Saturday's trip to Stoke, but such scrutiny does not bother 35-year-old frontman Ibrahimovic.

"I think the pressure I have all around me is nothing compared to the pressure I put on myself," he said.

"I really want to do not perfect, more than perfect, every game, even in training. I'm not happy if I don't win in training so imagine what it's like in the games.

"That is the pressure I put on myself and so your pressure becomes like a kindergarten for me.

"My pressure is really high. I'm not satisfied until I get what I want. What I want is to win."

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