Ibra plays well but off the mark: Jose

Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabs the throat of Fenerbahce's Simon Kjaer during a bust-up in their Europa League game that the Turkish side won 2-1. Manager Jose Mourinho has no issue with the Swede's contribution except in Thursday's match.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabs the throat of Fenerbahce's Simon Kjaer during a bust-up in their Europa League game that the Turkish side won 2-1. Manager Jose Mourinho has no issue with the Swede's contribution except in Thursday's match.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has admitted that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is "missing a lot of goals" but Manchester United's manager has no problem with the striker's attitude.

The Swede has scored just once in his past 11 appearances and drew his latest blank in Thursday's 2-1 defeat at Fenerbahce in the Europa League.

Mourinho takes United to Swansea today hoping for a first league win in two months. United have 15 points from 10 league games - a dismal run of form that pales in comparison to David Moyes' start, when he accumulated 17 points over the same period.

They have scored only 13 times in the league this term and Mourinho pointed to this when asked if it was time to drop Ibrahimovic.

Although he did not give a direct answer to the question, the 53-year-old said: "He is playing well for the team. He's creating a lot of chances and missing a lot of goals.

"If I remember Stoke, Liverpool, Chelsea, Burnley, he missed a lot of goals but he was fantastic in his dynamic, his working, his building up for the team, he was fantastic," added Mourinho, who will serve his touchline ban at the Liberty Stadium. "(Against Fenerbahce) I cannot say the same."

Yet the pressure on Ibrahimovic to live up to United's No. 9 billing is increasing after it emerged that team-mate Anthony Martial was upset that he had to give up that shirt number and settle for No. 11 following the Swede's summer arrival.

Martial's agent Philippe Lamboley blamed United for his client's form as Martial's return of two goals in 12 games saw him left out of the latest France squad.

"Yes, it (giving up the No. 9 jersey) got to him. Yes, it surprised him. Yes, he was disappointed... for two days," Lamboley told RMC Sport in France. "But he's professional... Personally, I find that decision out of order and disrespectful to my player. I told Manchester United's board that."

Lamboley insisted that Martial is "very happy" at Old Trafford, but feels that the Frenchman has not been given a fair start to the season.

He believes that Martial should have been given more time off this summer after his role in France's progress to the European Championship final.

With problems mounting for United, Swansea manager Bob Bradley admitted that today's fixture may have come at a good time.

"In theory it's a good time to face Man United, if we can make things like their form and travelling to Turkey work in our favour," he said.

"Jose has a lot of people to figure out and maybe they haven't found their best team or the right balance yet."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 06, 2016, with the headline 'Ibra plays well but off the mark: Jose'. Print Edition | Subscribe