Jose: Golden oldie Zlatan one for ages
Mourinho marvels as veteran striker proves United’s matchwinner again
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho hailed Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the veteran striker scored twice to earn his team its fourth straight victory with a 2-0 win at West Bromwich Albion.
Mourinho sang the praises of the evergreen Ibrahimovic after he struck early in each half to move United alongside fifth-placed Tottenham on 30 points in the Premier League standings.
“He is doing amazingly well, even in the period when he was not scoring goals,” said Mourinho.
“He is important to us for many more reasons than the goals, but in the last two matches he has scored three goals and got us six points in two away matches which is very important.
“I was expecting him to have the impact he has had this season because I knew the reasons he was coming here.
“He was not coming for the money or the prestige, he was just coming to enjoy his football and to play in the best league in the world.”
The 35-year-old Ibrahimovic has netted 16 times since joining the Old Trafford club last summer and is flourishing despite being in the twilight of his career.
“I was very lucky in my career because I had a lot of players with enthusiasm and players in the last phase of their career — 35, 36, 37 years old – and they were still magnificent in their attitude,” added Mourinho.
“But he is not just a normal player, he’s in a position where you cannot hide and just play with experience.
“Amazing central defenders can play until they are really older but as a striker you cannot hide and he’s doing very well.
“We communicate, we exchange ideas at his situation and his feeling and up until now he is feeling great.”
Mourinho played down an altercation between Salomon Rondon and Marcos Rojo, when West Brom’s Venezuelan striker appeared to slap United’s Argentine Rojo.
“I was happy with the decision, it was correct,” said the Portuguese. “The referee did fine.”
Mourinho was clearly in a festive mood and ordered his players to throw their shirts to United’s visiting fans following the final whistle.
“I told them to do that,” he said. “It’s Christmas time and a shirt for a fan coming direct from the game, with sweat means a lot.
“For them it’s just one more shirt. It is a pity that not everyone can get one but for the ones that get it, it is great.”
Ibrahimovic put United ahead in the fifth minute when he nodded in a superb Jesse Lingard cross.
The Swede doubled the lead in the 56th minute with a shot that deflected off Albion defender Craig Dawson.
Baggies boss Tony Pulis suggested Ibrahimovic should have been sent off for smashing into Dawson with his elbow in the first half, which had home fans screaming for his dismissal.
Asked about the incident, Pulis said: “Ask the 28,000 supporters what they thought. I’m not commenting on it.”
Despite its solid season so far, Pulis said that he hopes to strengthen his squad during the January transfer window.