Manchester United’s Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic (C) lifts the ball over Sunderland’s English goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (R) to score their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 26, 2016.
Oli SCARFF / AFP
Veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s recent flurry of goals has helped power Manchester United’s resurgence but he says he is not content because he hasn’t created many chances for his team-mates.
The 35-year-old, who United manager Jose Mourinho claimed earlier this week is set to sign an extension to his year-long contract which he agreed to when he joined in July from Paris Saint-Germain, told MUTV he is not happy with just having three assists to his name thus far.
“When I scored (in the Boxing Day 3-1 win over Sunderland) it was 50 (goals in 2016),” he said.
“That is not one of my objectives because if a player starts to focus only on scoring goals it means he’s focusing only on himself.
“Like I said, I’m not here to focus on myself because I’m here to help my team-mates win. The goals come in the second wave -– the first wave is my team, the collective part that I want to win with them.
“If the collective does well, the individual will do well and I prefer to have it that way.
“If you know the way I play my game, I’m the one who scores or tries to help my team-mates score.”
One of Ibrahimovic’s three assists, though, will remain long in the memory for one of the goals against Sunderland.
His cross found Armenian midfield dynamo Henrikh Mkhitaryan who converted it with a spectacular ‘scorpion kick’.
“That was perfect because I said to myself ‘if I put it a little behind him he can do the backheel’ – exactly like we have been training for these couple of weeks and it worked,” said Ibrahimovic.
“I was the one jumping higher than everybody else when we were celebrating! I was super happy, especially for Micki. I know how it feels to score a goal like that.
“I’m happy they (the officials) didn’t give it offside because a goal like that has to be (a) goal.”
Ibrahimovic, who enjoyed a good relationship with Mourinho when they were together at Inter Milan in Italy, said he intended to improve his number of assists.
“I haven’t had many assists so far and that is part of my game that I’ve been missing here in my six months at United,” said Ibrahimovic, who retired from the national team after a disappointing Euro 2016 having hit 62 goals in 116 appearances over 15 years.
“At my other clubs I’ve been scoring goals but I’ve also done a lot of assists.
“I’m happy to give an assist because for me it is just like you have scored yourself.
“It’s part of my game and I have wanted to be as complete as possible in my game since I was young and started to play football.
“I want to be good at everything, not in one thing, so the assists will come. Some have come already but even more will come.”