Mour­inho ties his fate to Ibrahi­movic at United

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Jose Mour­inho’s an­nounce­ment that Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic will stay at Manch­ester United for a se­cond sea­son was a bold state­ment of faith in a striker still try­ing to prove him­self in Eng­land. United’s man­ager swat­ted away ques­tions about the 35-year-old’s pace and suitabil­ity, ef­fec­tively ty­ing their fates to­gether as they seek a way to turn around United’s sea­son.

“We are go­ing to ex­e­cute the op­tion of a se­cond sea­son,” said Mour­inho. “Af­ter that he can do what he wants.”

While it is not hard to see why Ibrahi­movic would re-sign a one-year deal re­ported to be worth 260,000 pounds ($323,362.00) a week, some United fans ques­tion whether he re­mains the right man to spear­head their at­tack into his 37th year.

The goals have dried up af­ter five in his first five games. Since then the Swede has net­ted three times in 12 at­tempts, once against Ukrainian side FC Zo­rya in the Europa League and twice ver­sus Swansea City, the Premier League’s bot­tom side. Although some of those strikes were spec­tac­u­lar, Ibrahi­movic has ap­peared a throw­back in a sea­son where Chelsea and Liver­pool have lit­er­ally set the pace with high­oc­tane per­for­mances that have seen them surge ahead of sixth-placed United.

The Swede de­fended him­self with char­ac­ter­is­tic charm on Wed­nes­day when it was sug­gested at a news con­fer­ence that he had not shone this sea­son.

“I shine for 24 hours (a day), so it de­pends how you want me to shine,” he said. “I’ve been in the game for 20 years and, while I’m get­ting older, I feel I’m get­ting bet­ter as I get older.

“I am shin­ing in one way or an­other, but if you want me to shine even more then I will try and do it for you,” he joked.

The prob­lem is Mour­inho has al­ready iden­ti­fied a lack of pace as a prob­lem for his at­tack, ex­plain­ing he over­looked Wayne Rooney at home to Arse­nal on Satur­day be­cause he was too slow.

Wed­nes­day’s con­tract an­nounce­ment was all the more sur­pris­ing be­cause Ibrahi­movic had sug­gested ear­lier this week that he might “out­napoleon Napoleon” by de­camp­ing to the MLS.

“Per­haps I should do what Napoleon didn’t and cross the At­lantic and con­quer the States as well,” he told Swedish news­pa­per Afton­bladet. But first he must con­quer Manch­ester. With a tro­phy bagged ev­ery sea­son since 2001, in­clud­ing 13 league ti­tles, and a statue to be erected in his hon­our in Stock­holm, Mour­inho clearly be­lieves Ibra will de­liver. — Reuters

LEICESTER: Leicester’s Christian Fuchs, left, and Brugge’s Jelle Vossen chal­lenge for the ball dur­ing the Cham­pi­ons League Group G soc­cer match be­tween Leicester City and Club Brugge in Leicester, Eng­land, Tues­day. — AP

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