Chelsea FC manager Jose Mourinho was asked recently about Paris Saint Germain striker and his former player Zlatan Ibrahimovic and he was generous with his praise for the Swede. Mourinho described Ibrahimovic as a special player and that he was easy to work with despite a reputation that suggests otherwise. Ibrahimovic is one of the major “personalities” of world football and his tremendous ego has many people convinced that he can be trouble in a dressing room and is difficult to work with. Mourinho refuted that claim and said that Ibrahimovic was easy to work with.
Mourinho on Ibrahimovic’s “difficult” reputation:
“Easy, easy. I don’t understand when people say [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] is a difficult guy to work with or a difficult personality. A difficult personality [is] when you have to work with people who don’t want to win or don’t want to improve. When you have somebody that is a winner and wants to win all the time and wants to be the best and is not afraid of the big responsibilities, I think he is very, very easy.I only coached him for a year but it was a good year, a good experience and I rate him as one of the best players I have ever coached.”
There is little doubt of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s large ego and his recent “Dare to Zlatan” marketing campaign is a play on the striker’s confidence and, some would say, arrogance. Ibrahimovic himself is a big fan of Mourinho and perhaps it is the manager’s excellent man management skills that allowed Ibrahimovic to be himself and use his confidence and ego for the good of the team. With all the negative reports from Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o of Pep Guardiola, it was likely that Guardiola could not find a way to deal with either of their massive egos and shipped them out rather than nurturing them the way Mourinho did.
The Swede has been in blistering form for PSG and has been an absolute force in their domestic campaign and in Europe. PSG has other weapons but they will depend heavily on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the only way for Chelsea FC to move on to the semifinals will be to contain the in-form striker. If Mourinho thinks that praising the Swede in the media will help placate him then by all means please continue. If he is just paying lip service to a great player then that is just fine too.
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