Swede start to Jose's era

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrating after marking his Premier League debut by scoring his side's third goal in their 3-1 win over Bournemouth.
Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrating after marking his Premier League debut by scoring his side's third goal in their 3-1 win over Bournemouth.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

Ibrahimovic debut goal puts the polish on victory, while Liverpool seal 4-3 triumph against Arsenal

LONDON • Jose Mourinho expects Zlatan Ibrahimovic to help Manchester United rule the English Premier League, after the Swede's excellent debut goal in yesterday's 3-1 win at Bournemouth.

There were also some classy goals at the Emirates Stadium as Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool prevailed 4-3 over Arsenal in their opening clash.

After winning league titles with Ajax, Barcelona, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, Ibrahimovic has his sights set on adding a first Premier League medal to his glittering trophy cabinet.

His goal against Bournemouth means he has now scored on his debut in the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and the Champions League, and United manager Mourinho is confident his close-season signing is only just getting started.

The 34-year-old, who arrived from French league champions PSG on a free transfer, scored United's third goal with a well-struck 25-metre shot, earning an early comparison with Old Trafford icon Eric Cantona.

"Eric Cantona was here at the best moment in his career. This guy (Ibrahimovic) is more than a player," Mourinho said. "For the next two seasons I think he can be phenomenal for the team and the Premier League.

"It's incredible how Zlatan has never won the Golden Ball, but he wants to win the Premier League, not the Golden Ball."

Ibrahimovic admitted it is not always easy to adapt to a new league, so he was happy to get off to a winning and scoring start in England.

"The team did good. It was a difficult game. In the first half we weren't 100 per cent but we had more space in the second half and could play our game," he said.

"It's important to start good. Being new to the league is not easy. Everything is new for me, my team-mates, the clubs, the environment. I just play my game.

"I try to do my job and help my team. The first objective is to win, it's also good if I score. But it's the same importance whoever scores."

There were also goals from Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney as the Mourinho era at United began on an encouraging note.

The Portuguese manager is desperate to restore his tarnished reputation after being sacked by Chelsea last season.

In the absence of the suspended Paul Pogba, their world-record signing, United eased to victory after Mata punished a mistake by Bournemouth defender Simon Francis just before half-time. Rooney added the second after the interval.

Although Adam Smith pulled one back for Bournemouth, Mourinho will hope to build on the momentum from this result as he eyes a title challenge.

"I'm very happy. Bournemouth always start with great intensity but we kept our control," he said. "We weren't surprised and then we started playing. In the second half we had a bit more confidence."

Bournemouth were also United's opponents when they concluded a frustrating league campaign last season by the same victory margin.

But, whereas the staid atmosphere at Old Trafford that day reflected the drab nature of Louis van Gaal's reign, there was a whiff of revolution in the air on the genteel English south coast as Mourinho's reign got under way.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2016, with the headline 'Swede start to Jose's era'. Print Edition | Subscribe