Ibrahimovic backs Pogba’s ability to handle ‘24-hour pressure’
Manchester United’s record signing ‘belongs at top’ despite poor show against Liverpool
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba reacts after a missed chance against Liverpool on Sunday. Photograph: Phil Noble/ Livepic/Reuters
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has no doubt Paul Pogba can handle the “24-hour pressure” of playing for Manchester United despite a poor display against Liverpool that included conceding the penalty that gave Jürgen Klopp’s side a first-half lead.
United required Ibrahimovic’s 84th-minute header to share the points on Sunday after Pogba handled a corner to gift Liverpool a penalty that James Milner converted. This was the headline mistake in a disappointing display from the 23-year-old, who cost United a world record £93.2 million (€105.8 million) and had been among United’s best recent performers.
Yet Ibrahimovic said: “Pressure is something I enjoy. I don’t know Paul personally to able to answer that for him. But I think he likes it also because, without pressure, we would not be on our toes at the top level. If you want to play at the top, pressure is 24 hours, and if you play well or better, the pressure becomes even greater. So it’s something that we learn from and something we have to handle because we belong to the top. Paul belongs at the top absolutely and the pressure will be there.”
Last week Pogba became the first footballer to have his own emoji on Twitter. This was widely publicised, including on United’s website. Ibrahimovic does not believe this affected the midfielder.
Ibrahimovic likened outside pressure on him to that from a kindergarten. “I think the pressure I have all around me is nothing compared to the pressure I put on myself. I really want to do, not perfect, more than perfect, every game, even in training. I’m not happy if I don’t win in training, so imagine what it’s like in the games. That is the pressure I put on myself and so your pressure becomes like a kindergarten for me. I’m not satisfied if I get what I want. What I want is to win.” Guardian service