Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho: It's impossible to leave out incredible Ibrahimovic

By Timothy Abraham

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has become virtually undroppable this season, according to manager Jose Mourinho.

The 35-year-old has found the net 14 times in all competitions for United this campaign after he joined from Paris St Germain on a free transfer in the summer.

Ibrahimovic has also featured in more games than any of United's other strikers this season having appeared in 24 of their 26 matches.

The former Sweden international will start up front in the Red Devils' Premier League clash with West Bromwich Albion today, although Mourinho admits he will have to give him a rest at some point.

"It is almost impossible to leave him out? Yes, it is," Mourinho said. "As a striker he is in one of the positions where you cannot hide. He is phenomenal and will play again tomorrow and then have one week to rest.

"I am not surprised at all. I knew from the physical point of view he could resist but obviously he cannot play 60 matches. I must give him a rest.

"I must leave him out a game. He was suspended against Arsenal. So that game he did not play.

"In some matches in the Europa League he was on the bench, also against Northampton. So now and again I will find a way to give him a rest.

"But as our target striker, he is the only one. And the way we normally play, we need him."

The Red Devils have been boosted by the return of defender Chris Smalling for the trip to The Hawthorns, but fellow centre-back Eric Bailly will miss out with the knee injury he picked up against Crystal Palace.

"I don't know how long with Eric, but he doesn't need surgery," Mourinho said. "By the movement on the pitch we thought meniscus, but no. It's a question to see the evolution. Hopefully we have him for the last two matches in 2016."

Left-back Luke Shaw (groin) and midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan (ankle) are not yet considered fit enough to return.

West Brom manager Tony Pulis is the highest-placed British boss in the Premier League with his side seventh, four points behind United in sixth.

And Mourinho believes that perhaps British managers do not get the recognition they deserve for their achievements.

"In English football there are different kinds of profiles," added the Portuguese. "If you manage big teams like Real Madrid, Inter, Barca, Bayern, Juventus, Dortmund, obviously the targets are impossible for people like Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, Mark Hughes, David Moyes.

"And Tony (Pulis) got trophies everywhere in every club. He was not relegated with Stoke, it's a trophy. He was not relegated with West Brom, it's another trophy. Not relegated with Palace, it's another trophy.

"So he has lots of trophies. By trophies I mean reach the target and he did that.

"You are not expecting some of the clubs he manages to be the champions. So for me, yes, British managers are not looked on as they should be."

Belfast Telegraph


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