Football

Mourinho keeps faith with Ibrahimovic

Mourinho unfazed by Ibrahimovic's barren spell

SWANSEA v MAN UNITED

(Tonight, 10.55pm, Singtel TV Ch 105 & StarHub TV Ch 230)

After making a bright start to his Manchester United career, he has scored just once in his last 11 appearances.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's barren spell has led to critics calling for him to be dropped, but United manager Jose Mourinho expects the Swede's "brilliant" attitude to soon be rewarded with goals.

"He (Ibrahimovic) is playing well for the team. He's creating a lot of chances, but missing a lot of goals," said Mourinho of the 35-year-old who joined the club from Paris St Germain in the summer.

"If I remember Stoke (City), 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.

"In every match in the Premier League, even (if he is) not scoring goals, he's being fantastic.

NO PROBLEM

"His attitude is always brilliant. He's not a guy afraid of his responsibilities, so no problem at all."

Ibrahimovic's lean spell is not the only cause of concern for Mourinho as his side have netted just 13 times in 10 league games, including three straight fixtures without a goal since the 1-1 draw with Stoke on Oct 2.

United, who have slumped to eighth in the Premier League following a string of poor results, will look to get back to winning ways when they travel to Swansea City tonight.

So dominant for so long under Sir Alex Ferguson, United have struggled to replicate that supremacy since the Scot's retirement in 2013.

It is very early in Mourinho's tenure but, 10 matches into the Premier League season, they are already seven points off the top four before last night's matches.

United approach the Swansea match reeling from a difficult 2-1 Europa League defeat by Fenerbahce, where Moussa Sow's overhead kick after 65 seconds set the Turkish side on course for victory.

EARLY SETBACK

It was the second successive away game that United had failed to recover from an early setback, with Pedro Rodriguez's 30th-second strike setting Chelsea up for a 4-0 win last month.

Mourinho wants the Red Devils to start showing better leadership and mental strength.

"It can happen everywhere," the United manager said, when asked if the recent early goals were a concern.

"There are so many examples in football where people score goals in the first minutes. Nobody is free of that.

"But, with a stronger attitude, leadership on the pitch, defenders in control of the emotion and the organisation, it's easier to be strong, it's easier to be solid."

Injuries to key defenders Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia have no doubt disrupted things, but Mourinho has a problem of his own at Swansea, given he will have to watch from the stands due to a one-match touchline ban for his behaviour towards officials against Burnley.

The Portuguese told reporters to "forget it" when they attempted to quiz him on the absence, giving a similar curt response when asked if Bastian Schweinsteiger would be involved tonight.

The former Germany captain's first-team exile surprisingly came to an end this week, but his return to training - and an apparent thigh injury to Paul Pogba - will not see him come into contention for Swansea.

"No, because I decide and I decide no," Mourinho said, when asked if Schweinsteiger could feature.

"It's too early for him. He's training with the team for three or four days. He's not ready to play football at that level." - PA Sport.

eplManchester UnitedSwansea City