Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Manchester United are prevented from entering a new era by the weight of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign and regular media criticism from ex-players.
The cocksure Swede is now with the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer but sat down with The Mirror’s Andy Dunn and discussed the club he served for under two years until March 2018.
“Everything that happens is judged by the era of Ferguson. They are saying if Ferguson was here, this would not happen, Ferguson would not do it like that,” he explained of the burden on United. “Ferguson would do it like this. Everything was Ferguson.
“If it was me, I would say I don’t have Ferguson any more. And I come here and I want to make my own history, I want to make my own story. So I do not want to hear what happened before. I want to do it in the present. You come in with a new mentality.
“Ferguson has his place in history at this club but now the club continues. It has to find its own identity and it is difficult.”
Members of Manchester United’s famed Class of ’92 – players who were promoted from the Red Devils’ academy in 1992 and subsequently thrived under Ferguson – are often on television panels commenting on games and the biggest stories in football.
Paul Scholes, for example, was regularly disparaging about the Jose Mourinho regime before the Portuguese was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in December. Gary Neville is also a respected pundit and has been scathing about how United is run from the boardroom.
“They are not there anymore. They are on TV and complaining all the time because they are not active in the club,” Ibrahimovic opined.
“If you want to work in the club, go and search for work in the club. So you cannot be on TV and always complaining and criticizing. Yeah, OK, you’ve had your time, we know it.”
The 37-year-old believes the presence of these on-screen personalities has piled the pressure on Paul Pogba. The oft-criticized midfielder remains good friends with Ibrahimovic and has faced questions over his work ethic and general effectiveness in the United lineup.
“He was with United when he was young, then he went out and he came back,” Zlatan described.
“And in the circle of Ferguson, they don’t like that. Because they stayed all their life under Ferguson and they never moved from Ferguson. And they didn’t even talk if Ferguson didn’t tell them to open their mouth.”
Ibrahimovic backs Pogba and Marcus Rashford – the veteran said the latter “has no limits” – to be a huge part of United’s future, and also says Mourinho, his former gaffer at Inter and United, will soon return to management.
“What he has done, you can never erase that,” Ibrahimovic said. “He has a CV where he won wherever he went.”