When joining Manchester United, part of the criticism behind Jose Mourinho was his tendency to create controversy in the media, causing problems inside and outside the club. However, it seems much of the media handling has been passed on to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been speaking openly in the media for a couple of days about many occurrences around the club. Only building the confidence around the likes of Wayne Rooney and Marcus Rashford, Ibrahimovic has now praised his partner in crime, Paul Pogba, stating that those who are criticizing him already are merely jealous of United’s coup.
Speaking jokingly about their relationship, Ibrahimovic mentioned that he’s the talker of the two, before saying that everyone commenting negatively about Pogba will be eating their words eventually. The Frenchman, who seems to be a victim of United’s poorly chosen 4-2-3-1 system, is struggling to fulfill the massive expectations surrounding him going forward while fulfilling the defensive duties of a midfielder in a double-pivot midfield.
“My relationship with Paul is really easy. I talk, he listens.
“All the jealous people talking about him will swallow all of the words they have said about him. He will only improve and will get everyone behind him.”
It is easy to understand why people are criticizing Pogba, but really I find it to be a shame to see how far people are going with it. He’s clearly struggling to fit into the system, and everybody knows that. But constant choruses about his fee and the fact he hasn’t scored a goal every single game are hyperbolic farces that are being used in the media to bring him down. It’s something that one doesn’t often see around other sides and their players, but something very common with United.
This is part of the reason as to why Ibrahimovic is more than the sum of his footballing attributes. At United, he is not only fighting his critics and for the team, but also against the media, which is something Louis van Gaal’s men failed to do at United. Constant pressure from the media finding ways to berate van Gaal even when the side was winning could have been part of the reason for the side’s downfall.
Even if you, the reader, aren’t a fan of United, you should want to see the side do well for the common good. Pogba’s success could be great because everyone knows he can be one of the best players in the world and he can be wonderful to watch. We’re only around for so long, as are those around us, so why spend so much time trying to hold them back? Pogba’s failure won’t make anyone else any more likely to succeed. In the German Bundesliga, sides work together quite often in terms of exchanging players and managing finances, and they clearly benefit from it more than England’s approach of each team against the other 19.
But, back to Ibrahimovic, he explained exactly why he joined United again- because he wants to get United back to the top with Mourinho and Pogba. Ibrahimovic made it clear that he wants to work hard to get United back ‘where they belong’- at the pinnacle of football. For the first time in a long time, United has been injected with such passion and ambition, and that was on show during the Manchester derby.
“My legacy is to bring Manchester United to where the club needs to be. That’s why I work hard. The club deserves to be at the top. It would have been easy to go elsewhere, to end on what I did and what I’ve done. But I accepted the challenge and I am not afraid. [Mourinho] is a winner and I also see myself as a winner. He thinks the same thing, he won and I won. We won when we were young and we will win now that we’re a little older.”
Ibrahimovic and United will travel to Rotterdam to take on Feyenoord, currently top of the Eredivisie after the opening games. United sits in fourth in the Premier League despite a fantastic start, but even that could be tough if Mourinho’s men don’t stay sharp all year. Ibrahimovic likely won’t start, with Mourinho saying Marcus Rashford will play against the Dutch outfit, but he will need to be in top form as United takes on Watford at Vicarage Road. With Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool all competing for places in early days, United will need to win points every week to ensure they stay atop the Premier League table.