Football

Sorry for my suspension, Ibra tells fans

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic has apologised to fans after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Swansea City in the Premier League on Sunday, which rules him out of their next game against Arsenal.

The 35-year-old, who scored twice in the 3-1 win over Swansea to help lift his team to sixth in the table, was booked for a tackle on midfielder Leroy Fer in the 76th minute at the Liberty Stadium and incurs an automatic one-game ban.

"I'm sorry I am suspended for the next game. I wish I wasn't, as it's a game I really wanted to play in," Ibrahimovic told the club's website (www.manutd.com).

"Every time I try to play my game by being strong, and going into the tackles, or whatever it is, I get a yellow card... In England, the football is hard, it's physical."

He added he had not registered why he was booked as he was "too tired and did not hear (the referee)".

The Premier League resumes on Nov 19, with fourth-placed Arsenal visiting Old Trafford for the weekend's early kick-off.

The Swede scored four goals in his opening four Premier League matches since signing on a free transfer after leaving Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, but went six top-flight games without finding the net before finally scoring twice against Swansea.

Ibrahimovic revealed he was not expecting to find the English league so challenging.

"I could have scored a couple more goals than I have done – I missed pretty good chances which I didn't see myself doing," Ibrahimovic told Inside United.
"But it's a different game here.

"Here, it's different compared to the ones (the leagues) before. When you play a game here, there is no team controlling it, it's back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. That's the way the game is, you have to get used to it.

"With my performance, I am happy. I know I can do more, I know the team can do more and I want to do more and I will do more."

Jose Mourinho, who was suspended from the touchline for the win at Swansea, appeared to question the character of some of his players following the game, leading to England interim-manager Gareth Southgate defending Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling - who had made themselves unavailable for the fixture.

CLOSE-KNIT GROUP

Ibrahimovic insists United's squad are a close-knit group though and is adamant they will bring the best out of him.

"We have a mix of ages - experienced players, young players, the quality is there," he added.
"We can achieve big things. I said after the Liverpool game and I said it before that we just need to find the 'click' where we find each other.

"Every day that goes by, the more you get to know each other and it becomes like a family. You know what you need - I know what I need to do to get the maximum out of my teammates and the same thing on the other side, they know what they need to bring that out of me."

He also said Manchester is his favourite city of his playing career and joked the only landmark he wanted to see in Paris was himself.

Ibrahimovic added: "In four years I didn't go to see the Eiffel Tower once - I wanted them to change the Eiffel for my statue but they didn't do it!

"Maybe if they do it now, I will go to visit!" - PA Sport.


BY THE NUMBERS

400

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 400th club goal during Man United's win over Swansea on Sunday to help his side end a four-game winless run in the top flight.

eplManchester UnitedZlatan Ibrahimovic