Jose bank­ing on more Ibra in­spi­ra­tion

Zla­tan ex­ten­sion ‘a for­mal­ity’ af­ter Swede stars again

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Manch­ester, Eng­land

Jose Mour­inho is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic next sea­son af­ter the Manch­ester United man­ager said the hot-shot striker’s con­tract ex­ten­sion is a for­mal­ity.

Ibrahi­movic scored once and as­sisted on United’s other goals in a 3-1 Box­ing Day win over Sun­der­land.

The 35-year-old ar­rived from Paris Saint-Ger­main in July on a one-year deal with an op­tion for a fur­ther year, which Mour­inho in Novem­ber in­di­cated United was keen to take up.

Af­ter another star show­ing from the Swede on Mon­day, Mour­inho said the clause will be ac­ti­vated.

“It is ac­ti­vated in his brain and it is ac­ti­vated also in my de­ci­sions and in the own­ers’ and the board’s. So it is no prob­lem,” said Mour­inho.

Ibrahi­movic’s strike against the Black Cats took his tally to 50 in all com­pe­ti­tions for club and coun­try dur­ing 2016, the year he re­tired from in­ter­na­tional duty with Swe­den.

“I am not re­ally sur­prised be­cause he is a very in­tel­li­gent guy and a very proud man,” Mour­inho said.

“He de­cided to come to Manch­ester United and to the Premier League, to a club with the level of ex­pec­ta­tion of Manch­ester United, in the most dif­fi­cult league in the world for a striker.

“When he de­cides to come here, it is be­cause he knows he can do it.

“When we con­tacted him and he said, yes, he will come, I was sure that he was not com­ing here to leave the Premier League with­out prov­ing him­self.

“To leave the Premier League hav­ing failed at Manch­ester United? No way.

“When such a guy de­cided to come, I was com­pletely clear that he would be ready and he is ready for more next sea­son. He will be here again.”

Ibrahi­movic set up Da­ley Blind to put United ahead in the 39th minute and then ran through to net from Paul Pogba’s pass be­fore tee­ing up Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan for a spec­tac­u­lar scor­pion-kick vol­ley.

United se­cured a fourth straight Premier League win to ex­tend its un­beaten streak in all com­pe­ti­tions to 11 matches, in the ab­sence of Wayne Rooney.

The United cap­tain was left out of the lineup af­ter in­jur­ing a thigh mus­cle in train­ing.

Moyes mis­ery

Mour­inho said the Eng­land in­ter­na­tional was doubt­ful for the visit of Mid­dles­brough on New Year’s Eve.

Asked if Rooney would be fit, Mour­inho replied: “I don’t think so. I hope so. I would like him to be.

“He is al­ways a player I would like to be avail­able. Let’s see. It is not a big deal, but in four days — I have my doubts.”

Sun­der­land boss David Moyes had to set­tle for a loss in his first match back at Old Traf­ford since United fired him in April 2014.

The Scot’s team re­mains in the bot­tom three and the Wear­siders look des­tined for a sur­vival fight come May.

How­ever, Moyes said he en­joyed his re­turn, de­spite the pub­lic­ity that sur­rounded him in the build-up.

“When you are in foot­ball, what comes around goes around,” said Moyes, whose team replied through Fabio Borini’s su­perb late lon­grange strike.

“I knew that some day I would come up against the Manch­ester United play­ers or work with some of them.

“I think that’s what hap­pens when you’re in foot­ball. I en­joyed com­ing back. I have al­ways en­joyed com­ing here. It’s a hard place to come, a hard place to get a re­sult, and that showed to­day.”

From chas­ing ti­tles at Old Traf­ford, Moyes finds him­self in a rel­e­ga­tion tus­sle with Sun­der­land, which is two points from safety.

“We are go­ing to have to try to gal­va­nize from within,” said the for­mer Pre­ston, Ever­ton and Real So­ciedad man­ager. “It is not a sit­u­a­tion I am nec­es­sar­ily used to, but some of the play­ers are used to it here.

“I hope to­gether we can find a way of be­ing good enough and strong enough in the games that re­ally mat­ter.

“Did this game mat­ter? It def­i­nitely mat­tered.

“But there will be games maybe more so that will be im­por­tant for us.” Mkhi­taryan’s scor­pion stunner a tail of in­stinct

To leave the Premier League hav­ing failed at United? No way. When such a guy de­cided to come, I was com­pletely clear that he would be ready.” Jose Mour­inho,

Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan said his spec­tac­u­lar scor­pion kick in Manch­ester United’s 3-1 tri­umph against Sun­der­land on Mon­day was pure im­pro­vi­sa­tion.

The Ar­me­nian play­maker sealed vic­tory at Old Traf­ford when he lunged un­der Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic’s right-wing de­liv­ery and flicked past goal­keeper Jor­dan Pick­ford with his right heel.

The goal, rem­i­nis­cent of for­mer Colom­bia goal­keeper Rene Hi­gu­ita’s out­ra­geous scor­pion-kick save against Eng­land in 1995, was al­lowed to stand de­spite an ap­par­ent offside.

“I was ex­pect­ing the ball in front of me, but I was al­ready in front, so I got it be­hind me,” Mkhi­taryan told MUTV.

“So the only thing I could do was try to hit it with the back-heel. I did it and I suc­ceeded.”

Mkhi­taryan was a sec­ond­half sub­sti­tute, hav­ing pre­vi­ously spent two games on the side­lines with an an­kle in­jury sus­tained dur­ing United’s 1-0 win over Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur.

That in­jury came just as the 27-year-old was es­tab­lish­ing him­self in United’s first team and man­ager Jose Mour­inho was de­lighted to see the for­mer Borus­sia Dort­mund for­ward back in ac­tion.

“I have to watch back on TV be­cause I didn’t yet, but it looked for me phe­nom­e­nal,” said Mour­inho.

“I think he scored in the right goal, the Stret­ford End, with the peo­ple very en­thu­si­as­tic just be­hind.”

PHIL NOBLE / REUTERS

Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan ex­pertly ex­e­cutes a scor­pion kick to score Manch­ester United’s third goal against Sun­der­land in their English Premier League match at Old Traf­ford, Manch­ester on Mon­day. United won 3-1 to record its fourth straight vic­tory.

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