Jose: Golden oldie Zla­tan one for ages

Mour­inho marvels as vet­eran striker proves United’s match­win­ner again

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in West Bromwich

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.

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