Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Manchester United Has 'Small Mentality'
04:11 GMT 05.12.2021 (Updated: 04:37 GMT 05.12.2021)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has opened up about his time at Manchester United in his autobiography, "Adrenaline". Over the course of his two-year stint with United, he found that the club on the inside did not resemble its outward image.
Ibrahimovic joined Manchester United after enjoying a successful four-season stint at Paris Saint-Germain. The headline-grabbing Swede won trophies everywhere he played, and was looking for a new challenge. He notoriously told PSG
that he would only stay in Paris if they tore down the Eiffel Tower and replaced it with a statue of himself.
When Ibrahimovic chose Manchester United, the self-professed biggest club in the world, he expected the outward reputation to mirror the inner workings of the club.
He wrote in his autobiography
, however, that "one thing surprised me: everyone thinks of United as a top club, one of the richest and most powerful in the world and seen from the outside it looked that way to me, but once I was there I found a small, closed mentality".
The club's treatment of Wayne Rooney's locker bewildered Ibrahimovic. On the day after Rooney moved from United back to Everton, United removed his name from his locker. Rooney is United's all-time goalscorer and a club legend. United rushing to remove his presence from the locker room did not sit well with Ibrahimovic.
The seemingly mundane experience of drinking juice came to epitomise Ibrahimovic's time in Manchester. He writes: "One day I was in the hotel with the team before a game. I got thirsty so I opened the mini-bar and had a fruit juice".
"We played and then went home. Some time went by. My pay slip arrives. Normally I don't look at it. I only do so at the end of the year to see what's come in and what's gone out. But that time, I don't know why, I was curious and realised they’d taken a pound off my monthly wage".
"I called the team manager", he continued, saying "'Excuse me, why have they taken a pound off my salary?' The team manager had a look and told me: 'It was the fruit juice from the mini-bar'. 'Are you kidding, seriously?' 'No, I’m not. Here, if you order something you have to pay for it'. 'Sure, but I didn't go to the hotel on my own accord. I wasn't on holiday. It was my workplace. I was there for Manchester. If I have to play and I'm thirsty, I have to drink. I can't go on the pitch dehydrated'".
The experience of drinking sweet fruit juice left a bitter taste in Ibrahimovic's mouth. He wrote: "Can you believe it? A quid? Something like that would never happen in Italy. These are the details that make a difference and earn the respect of the players".
He details how he would have to show identification every day to get into United's training ground. He writes how he joked with the person at the gate when he told them, "Listen my friend I've been coming here every day for a month. I'm the best player in the world. If you still don't recognise me, you're in the wrong job".
Ibrahimovic's time at Manchester United changed the way he thought of the club, for the worse. He saw a massive club nickel and dime its players. He saw a club not properly respecting a legend. He saw a club that felt more like a commercial enterprise than a united group working toward a shared goal.