In his 2013 autobiography, Zlatan Ibrahimovic made some scathing remarks about Pep Guardiola.
The Swede labelled the Manchester City boss a “spineless coward” in ‘I Am Zlatan’. With both plying their trade in the Premier League now, their rivalry makes for an interesting sub plot in the City vs Manchester United rivalry.
But as Ibrahimovic tries to best Guardiola, perhaps we shouldn’t hype up the feud too much because, according to Ilkay Gundogan, the United forward actually admires his former manager.
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Gundogan became Guardiola’s first signing as City boss when he arrived from Borussia Dortmund in June.
And the German claims that, despite what was said in his autobiography, Ibrahimovic thinks Guardiola is the best coach he’s worked with.
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“Even the players who don't like [Guardiola] rate him and the best example is Ibrahimovic," Gundogan said, per Goal.
"I read in his book that he doesn't like him. But he says he is the best coach he ever worked with. This is really special to read, but he is being honest.
"It is the same thing I heard from the players at Bayern Munich. They told me the same – that he can improve everyone. That is what is possible."
Guardiola draws the curtains
Now, we’re not one to argue with Gundogan, but just read what Ibrahimovic wrote in his autobiography and try making the argument that the 34-year-old considers Guardiola as a better coach than Mourinho:
"That guy [Mourinho] says whatever he wants. I like him. He's the leader of his army.
“But he cares, too. He would text me all the time at Inter, wondering how I was doing. He's the exact opposite of Pep Guardiola.
“If Mourinho lights up a room, Guardiola draws the curtains. I guessed that Guardiola was trying to match up to him. Mourinho would become a guy I was basically willing to die for."
Hmm. We think Gundogan might have misjudged Ibrahimovic’s view.
The pair will go head-to-head for the Premier League title next season as Mourinho and Guardiola renew a rivalry born in Spain.
It promises to be an enthralling battle. United, on the recovery from three forgettable seasons, versus a City team with dreams of conquering Europe.
And the former Barcelona manager has already aimed the first jibe, claiming the Citizens are in a better situation than their neighbours.
City nearly missed out on the Champions League, securing their spot in the top four on the final day of the season.
They still need to play a qualifier to enter the group stages but Guardiola insists his arrival wasn’t dependent on whether City reached the Champions League.
“I wasn't worried,” Guardiola said, per the Mirror. “I was coming to Manchester, I was never going to stay at home.
“But we are not in the Champions League, we have to be clear. That situation is now in this moment better than Manchester United's, though.”
Let the games begin.