Zlatan Ibrahimovic was back to his irrepressible, boastful best on Sunday as he joked about the landmark 25,000th Premier League goal that signalled a change in his fortunes.
The Swede ended his two-month Premier League goal drought by scoring twice in Manchester United’s 3-1 win at Swansea City and had a lovely, typical Zlatan response on learning that the first of them had been a landmark in the League’s 24-year annals.
“Ah, no I wasn’t,” he responded thoughtfully after being asked on Sky Sports if he had been aware of the fact that he had just scored the 25,000th Premier League goal.
“I thought that was only me who had scored 25,000!”
Only Ibrahimovic could have come up with such a mischievous response after finally ending his most barren patch in front of goal for a decade.
With his second goal, the 35-year-old ‘Ibra-Cadabra’ could also celebrate the 400th club goal of his magical career, which has taken in a host of Europe’s biggest clubs like Ajax, Juventus, Barcelona, the two Milan giants and Paris St Germain.
Without a league goal since September, Ibra was asked if he had been worried about his lean spell. “No, as long as you create the chances -- which I have been doing -- the goals will come. But the most important thing is the win,” he said.
Manager Jose Mourinho, much happier after a miserable week that ended with him having to watch Sunday’s match from the stands because of a touchline ban, reckoned he never had any doubts about Ibrahimovic’s efficacy either.
With his other mega-expensive import Paul Pogba also delivering with a superb volley, Mourinho had an answer for those who have been wondering if he was beginning to ‘lose’ the dressing room at Old Trafford as he did at Chelsea last season.
“The players believe in me and I believe in the players. That has never been the problem,” he said.
Then, though, Mourinho once again did his best to deflect criticism from himself by appearing to question the attitude of certain United players.
“I want to say they (players) were influenced by some culture issues, influenced by a situation that has been going on for a few years,” he told Sky Sports.
“There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for who a little pain can make a difference.
“If I were to speak with the many great football people of this team, they will say many times they played without being 100 percent. For the team. For the team you have to do anything. That is my way of seeing.”
Ibrahimovic’s attitude, though, has always delighted him although after the international break the Swede will miss the big match against Arsenal after picking up a fifth booking.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Pritha Sarkar)