Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has performed so well that he has made himself virtually undroppable this season according to manager Jose Mourinho.
The 35-year-old former Swedish international has found the net 14 times in all competitions for United this season after he joined from French champions Paris St Germain on a free transfer.
Ibrahimovic has also played in more matches than any of United’s other strikers this season, featuring in 24 of their 26 games so far, and will start up front in the Premier League clash with in-form West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
“Is it almost impossible to leave him out? Yes, it is,” said Mourinho at the eve of match press conference on Friday.
“As a striker he is one of the impossible positions where you cannot hide.
“He is phenomenal and plays again tomorrow (Saturday) and then one week to rest.
“I am not surprised at all. I knew from the physical point of view he could resist but obviously he cannot play 60 matches.”
Mourinho, who enjoyed a good relationship with Ibrahimovic at Inter Milan when he was in charge there, said he would need to rest him but he was such an integral part of the side it was hard to omit him.
“I must give him a rest. I must leave him out a game,” said Mourinho.
“He was suspended against Arsenal. So that game he did not play.
“In some matches in the Europa League he was on the bench, also against Northampton (in the EFL Cup).
“So now and again I will find him a way to give him a rest.
“But as our target striker we can see he is the only one. And the way we normally play we need him.”
– ‘A great example in everything’ –
Mourinho said Ibrahimovic is also a great example to United’s youngsters with the manner in which he conducts himself in matches and on the training ground.
“He is a great example in every aspect he is very professional,” said the 53-year-old Portuguese.
“Great also with his family life and on keeping his family life the most positive and private.
“He is a great example in everything and when you have him and Michael Carrick at 35 the kids could not have better examples.”
Mourinho’s West Brom counterpart Tony Pulis is presently the highest placed British manager in the Premier League with his side seventh, four points behind United in sixth.
Mourinho believes British managers do not get the recognition they deserve for their achievements compared to him and other big name foreign managers now in charge of Premier League clubs.
“In English football there are different kinds of profiles,” he said.
“Tony (Pulis) got trophies everywhere in every club.
“He was not relegated with Stoke, it’s a trophy. He was not relegated with West Brom, it’s another trophy. Not relegated with Palace it’s another trophy. And so on, and so on.
“So he has lots of trophies. By trophies I mean reach the target and he did that.
“Like some, never relegated, that is a big trophy.
“You are not expecting some of the clubs he manages to be the champion. So for me, yes, English (sic) managers are not looked at as they should be.”