José Mourinho tells United fans to camp at Ibrahimovic’s house
Manchester United manager says they must do everything to keep Swede for another year
Wayne Rooney celebrates with Zlatan Ibrahimovic after Manchester United had secured the EFL Cup against Southampton. Photo: Ian Kington/Getty Images
José Mourinho watched Zlatan Ibrahimovic snatch what he admitted was a slightly undeserved EFL Cup final victory against Southampton and he joked that Manchester United’s supporters ought to camp outside the striker’s house to persuade him to sign on for another season at the club.
United led at Wembley through goals from Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard before Southampton’s new signing, Manolo Gabbiadini, hit back with two goals of his own. Gabbiadini, who joined at the end of January from Napoli for €17m, had seen an 11th-minute effort wrongly disallowed for offside.
Ibrahimovic deepened Southampton’s sense of regret and injustice with the winning goal on 87 minutes and it brought his tally for the season, since his arrival as a free agent from Paris Saint-Germain, to 26 in all competitions. It helped Mourinho to become the first United manager to secure a trophy in his first season at the club and he has now equalled Brian Clough and Alex Ferguson with four League Cup triumphs.
Ibrahimovic has been offered a one-year extension to his contract at Old Trafford but he has yet to sign it. “If needed, United fans can go to the door of his house and stay there all night,” Mourinho said. “If needed, they will go, for sure.
“To get what we need for him to stay one more year. I honestly think he won the game for us because he was outstanding in a match where our opponents were better than us for long periods – and in a game where I think Southampton deserved to go to extra-time. They didn’t deserve to lose in 90 minutes.
“I was Zlatan’s manager [at Internazionale] and I know the potential of him. But it is all down to him. He came to England at 35 because he felt ready. Only a silly player comes to England at that age, with the successful career he had had, if he thinks he cannot do it.”
Ibrahimovic said: “This is what I came for – to win, and I am winning. The more I win, the more satisfied I get. You appreciate it more, the older you get. Wherever I have gone, I have won. I think this is trophy number 32 for me. This is what I predicted. To many, I could not do it. I keep doing it.”
Mourinho suggested that relief was most prominent among his emotions because he was “more afraid” of this type of final against a team who were clear pre-match underdogs. He also said Southampton’s greater freshness had been apparent. It was only their second game since the weekend of 4-5 February; it was United’s fifth in the same period.
“The fuel was in their legs, not ours,” Mourinho said. “If we go to extra time, we would be in trouble.”
Claude Puel was proud of his players but upset at the disallowing of what would have been Gabbiadini’s first goal. “I would like the video technology in the future for these situations,” the Southampton manager said. “But sometimes you get bad decisions. It’s very hard to lose this game. We were unlucky. It’s very cruel.”