Friday 19 January 2018

Zlatan Ibrahimovic out for revenge in Manchester derby as striker wants to be 'boss of the city'

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Jack De Menezes

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes the EFL Cup fourth round grudge match with Manchester City is a chance for Manchester United to seek revenge after suffering defeat in their Premier League derby encounter earlier this season, and he admitted that he is determined to emerge as “boss of the city”.

United were on the losing end of a 2-1 scoreline when the two sides met at Old Trafford in September, where Ibrahimovic notched their consolation goal after Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho had put City on the path to victory.

The defeat signalled a run of three straight losses for United and ended their perfect start to the season under Jose Mourinho, and Ibrahimovic clearly understands the importance of beating their main rivals, despite only joining the club in the summer.

However, the Swede stressed that the result is now in the past, and says he is fully focused on Wednesday’s EFL Cup fourth round encounter in an effort to make it up to the fans as well as to gain revenge for the United squad.

“We cannot go back and change the result, absolutely not, but we can make a difference in the upcoming game,” Ibrahimovic told the official United matchday programme, United Review. “We have an opportunity to play against City again, at home.

“We didn’t do good in the last game because we lost, obviously, but let’s change that for this game and win the game and go further in the cup. That’s what we want. We believe in ourselves and believe in what we are doing, that’s the main thing.

“Of course, everything is new for me [for the derby], I play the game and I saw how the game goes. It’s a rival game between two teams from the same city; one is light blue, one is red. You always want to be the boss of the city, of course.”

United head into the match of the humiliating 4-0 Premier League defeat at Chelsea, and the prospect of facing City – currently top of the Premier League table – is cause for concern for United fans beginning to fear that their season is unravelling already.

However, City manager Pep Guardiola has already suggested that he will play a number of young players in what will be a heavily changed line-up from the one that drew 1-1 with Southampton last Sunday, and it could be the chance United need to kick-start their season and generate some momentum heading towards Christmas in their effort to claw back the five-point gap that’s emerged between the two Manchester clubs in the Premier League.

Ibrahimovic has plenty of experience when it comes to intense rivalries, having played in the Milan derby as well as El Clasico during his well-travelled career, and he acknowledged that the challenge of playing against a squad with the talent of City’s is what brings the best out of him.

“They have good quality players, they know what they’re doing and what they need to do, but at the same time we know also what we need to do and what we are doing,” he added. “It’s nice to play against good players because they are the games that you can bring out the maximum of yourself.

“I have big experience for these kinds of games; I’ve played all over Europe in similar games, the kind of games, let’s say, where the heat is. I came out as a winner many times in these moments so let’s hope this is another moment I can come out as a winner.”

The former Sweden international has also experienced the not-so-traumatic experience of bumping into City fans on the streets of Manchester, and claimed that they do not oppose him like they do when he’s on the pitch.

He joked: “I’ve met a lot but they became United supporters when they met me!”

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