Jose Mourinho: Manchester United should fear Zlatan Ibrahimovic

22 February 2009 05:09
For me he is one of the best players in the world. He has had a very good season with Inter so far and I think we are bringing the best out of a player who needs to have the success to match his talent. United have had a great defensive record this season, for sure. But they have not had to deal with Ibrahimovic.

There are other great players in the world. Look at how well Lionel Messi is playing for Barcelona. And of course United have the World Player of the Year in Cristiano Ronaldo. But when people asked me before those awards who I thought deserved it I said Ibrahimovic.

When players are with me, I always say that my players are the best: this is the way I work. When I was at Porto I always said Deco was the best player in the world. When I was at Chelsea I said John Terry was the best central defender in the world, Didier Drogba the best striker and Frank Lampard the best midfield player.

Of course I respect and admire what Ronaldo did to win the Ballon d'Or and the Fifa award, which he deserved from what he achieved. But I have an incredible player in Ibrahimovic – even from the outside you must admit he is one of the three or four best in the world – and I say he's the best, because he's mine. If I have to feed some self-confidence, I want to do it to my players not anyone else's.

I don't think Ibrahimovic had reached the right level for his ability before we arrived here. Now, I think he is getting close to what he should be. I think we have improved him a lot. He is scoring more goals, 14 in 24 league games.

He is more objective driven. His work in the defensive phase has improved incredibly. And the great thing with him is the idea of a player not being able to play every game is completely out. He is playing absolutely every game in a fantastic physical condition. I think he's already a very different player.

And there is more to come. He has ambitions and he must have ambitions of winning things and individual awards. He's already among the three or four best so if his moment arrives he can be the best. The game against United will be a big test for him. He will get the chance to play against the champions of Europe, to play against a defender like Rio Ferdinand. I am confident he will be dangerous.

There have always been stories about him, that he is a difficult person. This is not true: he's a man, a team player. Of course he has a strong personality – he needs the other players to understand him, which they do because they have been together for a couple of years.

He's a winner, wants to win everything. He's an angry boy when things are not going in the right direction. He's a player with a lot ambition and he can win things. I believe he has to win. A player with his potential has to win something important and I believe this moment will arrive for him. But first he must take on the challenge of United.

It will not be an open game – we want it to be tight and tactical. So the strikers will not have time and room to work in. That makes it important for us that Ibrahimovic produces his very top performance. As I said in my column in The Sunday Telegraph , I think Nemanja Vidic should be suspended for both legs, not just this week's game. We will certainly try to make things uncomfortable for the United defence without him at the San Siro. We have almost the whole squad fit and with the support of our fans and the experience of our players we can make this very, very tough for United.

To win the Champions League with Inter would a great thing. This club have not won the trophy since 1965 and that is far too long for a club of this size, with this support. Now the challenge is to bring the trophy back to Milan. But first we must defeat the champions.

Source: Telegraph