Zla­tan daz­zles in de­but

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

JOSE Mour­inho believes Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic’s in­flu­ence on his Manch­ester United team­mates will be just as cru­cial as his in­spi­ra­tional con­tri­bu­tion on the pitch. Ibrahi­movic marked his Pre­mier League de­but for United in mem­o­rable fash­ion as the flam­boy­ant Swedish striker ham­mered a 25yard strike past Bournemouth goal­keeper Ar­tur Boruc to cap his new team’s 3-1 win at Dean Court over the week­end.

The 34-year-old has now scored on his maiden ap­pear­ances in the Pre­mier League, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and the Cham­pi­ons League.

While main­tain­ing that im­pres­sive statis­tic served as a no­table in­tro­duc­tion to English foot­ball, Ibrahi­movic has his sights set on win­ning the Pre­mier League rather than bol­ster­ing his lengthy list of in­di­vid­ual ac­co­lades.

With that in mind, Mour­inho, who brought Ibrahi­movic to United on a free trans­fer after he left Paris Saint Ger­main, has been en­cour­aged by the way the for­mer Barcelona and In­ter Mi­lan for­ward has quickly emerged as a tal­is­manic fig­ure in the Old Traf­ford dress­ing room.

Many of United’s young play­ers have been spend­ing time with Ibrahi­movic to pick his brains and Mour­inho even in­voked the name of United leg­end Eric Can­tona when asked about the Swede’s abil­ity to lift the level of his team­mates with his swag­ger­ing style and vast ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The first thing I can tell you is at his ta­ble for break­fast and for meals he is sur­rounded by the kids, the younger ones like [Mar­cus] Rash­ford and [Luke] Shaw,” Mour­inho said.

“He knows what he can be for them as well as what he does with his per­for­mances.

“You have to for­get he is 34 be­cause the body and men­tal­ity is not that age. He is at the top of his game.”

It was a per­fect start for both Mour­inho and Ibrahi­movic as they be­gin a new era with United.

But the mag­ni­tude of the United job meant even an ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paigner like Mour­inho felt a few nerves be­fore his first league match.

“To be hon­est be­fore the match I was a lit­tle bit [ner­vous]. Even for some­one with so many years in foot­ball it is still nor­mal,” he said.

“I never for­get when I came to Old Traf­ford with Real Madrid I asked Alex Fer­gu­son, ‘Are you still ner­vous?’ and he said, ‘Yes, it never changes.’”

Em­phatic A tepid first-half dis­play wouldn’t have eased Mour­inho’s anx­i­ety but the game changed com­pletely once a woe­ful back­pass by Bournemouth de­fender Si­mon Fran­cis was pun­ished by Juan Mata in the 40th minute.

Wayne Rooney added United’s sec­ond with a header in the sec­ond half and Ibrahi­movic struck soon after be­fore Adam Smith got one back for out-classed Bournemouth.

Hav­ing won the Com­mu­nity Shield against cham­pi­ons Le­ices­ter last week­end and started the league cam­paign in em­phatic fash­ion, Mour­inho was asked if United could re­peat the kind of blis­ter­ing open­ing to a sea­son that car­ried his Chelsea teams to three English ti­tles.

“I started bad with In­ter Mi­lan and Porto, with draws at home, and yet we won ev­ery­thing, so you never know,” he said.

“The Com­mu­nity Shield is only a friendly but the feel­ing of a vic­tory like that brings hap­pi­ness and con­fi­dence.

“Now an­other match, away, and an­other vic­tory. It’s a re­ally good week of work for us.

“So on Fri­day in the first home match, which can bring some pres­sure. we will go with a good feel­ing.

Every­body knows we are go­ing to fight for the ti­tle. Whether we win or not win is a dif­fer­ent story.

“If one day it’s not pos­si­ble, we will think about the top four. That would be a step for­ward from last sea­son.”

Bournemouth man­ager Ed­die Howe ad­mit­ted sloppy de­fend­ing had scup­pered his side’s chances of spoil­ing Mour­inho’s party.

“We dom­i­nated the early stages but you can’t gift Manch­ester United goals,” he said.

“You can’t lam­bast in­di­vid­u­als for that. The sec­ond half was more dif­fi­cult and they got their goals in quick suc­ces­sion.” –

Photo: AFP

Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic chases down a pass dur­ing his Pre­mier League de­but for Man U over the week­end.

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