Ibrahimovic and agent ensure Manchester derby fireworks

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates a goal against Southampton. The Swede has scored three times in as many Premier League matches this season.
Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates a goal against Southampton. The Swede has scored three times in as many Premier League matches this season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Zlatan Ibrahimovic's agent has raised the temperature ahead of the striker's first Manchester derby tomorrow by claiming Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola "lacks b***s" and preaches a "boring" style of football.

The Manchester United player, who spent one season at Barcelona under Guardiola, called the Spanish manager a "spineless coward" in his 2013 autobiography.

That was a reference to Guardiola's Barcelona team losing to Jose Mourinho's (the current United manager) Inter Milan in the 2010 Champions League semi-final.

And yesterday Ibrahimovic's voluble agent Mino Raiola kept up the attack by telling Spanish radio station Cadena Cope: "Guardiola? He doesn't have the b***s to sit down and talk to me and I don't like that. It's not that I hate him but I don't like him. He's a good coach, but his football bores me."

With the two managerial adversaries, Mourinho and Guardiola, sticking to their pre-season pledge that they see little point in public quarrelling, it is Ibrahimovic and his backers who have begun to take pot-shots at the City manager and players ahead of the derby.

On Wednesday, the charismatic Swede attempted to inject some spice into the build-up to the fixture by posting a video message to City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, 33.

NO LOVE LOST

Guardiola? He doesn't have the b***s to sit down and talk to me and I don't like that. It's not that I hate him but I don't like him.

MINO RAIOLA, agent of Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, doing little to hide his feelings for Pep Guardiola, the Swede's former coach at Barcelona.

The Chilean is set to make his City debut tomorrow and the striker warned Bravo that he will face a tough test if called upon to replace Willy Caballero in goal.

The video features Ibrahimovic packing a training vest from his sportswear brand A-Z into a box and then addressing the package to Bravo at City's Etihad Stadium.

Underneath the video, which was posted on Ibrahimovic's Instagram account, the 34-year-old wrote: "Welcome to Manchester! Here's some training gear, you're gonna need it. See you Saturday #MUFC #ManchesterDerby @azsportswear"

The video was watched more than 385,000 times within the first two hours of its publication.

Ibrahimovic, who signed for United on a free transfer in the close season after his contract with French side PSG expired, has started his United career in fine form. He netted three goals in his opening three Premier League matches.

His former team-mate Gianluca Zambrotta yesterday warned City that the Swede is still up there with the best strikers in the world .

Zambrotta, who played Ibrahimovic at Juventus and AC Milan, thinks the Swede will continue to shine this campaign.

"He is a winner everywhere he goes," he said. "He compares with the best players at the moment like (Luis) Suarez and Neymar."

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2016, with the headline 'Ibrahimovic and agent ensure Manchester derby fireworks'. Print Edition | Subscribe