Zlatan Ibrahimovic has insisted he likes what he sees from Jose Mourinho’s squad after paying a visit to Manchester United’s training session in Los Angeles. The ex-United striker watched his former team-mates train at the UCLA college campus, near where his current team Los Angeles Galaxy are based.
And Ibrahimovic was clearly impressed with the talent on show as he predicted something special at United next season, though he did insist they are lacking a player of his quality. Addressing the club’s Instagram followers, Ibrahimovic said: ‘Hi everybody, guess who’s back. Watching United train I see a lot of quality but not quality like me!
‘It’s great to see the guys and to see them happy and training good. Be ready for this season because something special will happen and the boss has something going on. So all the best for this season and enjoy!’
United were also joined by Nemanja Matic who linked up with his club team-mates for the first time this pre-season following his exploits with Serbia at the World Cup. The midfielder looked in good spirits as he stretched off in the California sunshine while Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody also made an appearance at the training session. Matic is the first of United’s World Cup stars to return to training with the likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and new signing Fred still on holiday after Russia 2018.
Ibrahimovic was pictured deep in conversation with manager Jose Mourinho and current first-team coach Michael Carrick, his team-mate last season at United. The striker starred for United during the 2016-17 campaign, scoring 28 goals before suffering a serious knee injury that saw him released by the club that summer.
However he made a remarkable recovery at the age of 35 to earn a new one-year contract last season before eventually leaving for LA Galaxy in March. United were held to a goalless draw by San Jose Earthquakes in the early hours of Sunday morning as Alexis Sanchez made his first appearance of the pre-season having resolved his visa issues.
The result makes it two draws in two for United after they were held to a 1-1 scoreline by Mexican outfit Club America in their pre-season opener. United’s next match is against Italian giants AC Milan at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Thursday morning with kick-off at 4am UK time.
The Red Devils then face rivals Liverpool in Michigan and Real Madrid in Miami to round off their US tour before returning to Europe to face Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich to round off their pre-season. Meanwhile Mourinho has urged Pogba to recreate the form he demonstrated at the World Cup during France’s campaign in Russia this summer at club level.
‘I don’t think it’s about us getting the best out of him, it’s about him giving the best he has to give,’ Mourinho told ESPN. ‘I think the World Cup is the perfect habitat for a player like him to give the best. Why? Because it’s closed for a month, where he can only think about football. Where he’s with his team on the training camp, completely isolated from the external world, where they focus just on football, where the dimensions of the game can only motivate. During a season, you can have a big match then a smaller match, then one even smaller, then you can lose your focus, you can lose your concentration, then comes a big match again. In the World Cup, the direction of the emotion, of the responsibility, of the big decisions is always growing up. You are in the group phase, you go to the last 16, to the quarterfinals, to the semifinals, to the finals.’