Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed the difference between the management styles of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.
The Swede spent a year playing under each manager, finishing as Serie A top scorer with Mourinho’s Inter Milan in 2008-09, before moving to Barcelona, where he endured a disappointing solitary campaign with Guardiola in the 2009-10 season.
In Carlo Ancelotti’s autobiography ‘Quiet Leadership’, which is currently being serialised in The Times, Zlatan describes Mourinho as “the disciplinarian” and refers to Guardiola as “the big brain in football”.
He says: “Mourinho is the disciplinarian. Everything with him is a mind game — he likes to manipulate. Such tricks were new for me — all the time doing one thing to get another thing, all the time triggering me. I like these games and it worked for me; I became top scorer under him and we won the league. As long as it works and as long as we win, it’s all good with me.
“The way Mourinho prepared for games was also new to me. I would get pumped up, believing the story he would feed us. I went through a lot of adrenaline when I played for him. It was like nothing was ever good enough. He gave and he took. Jose Mourinho knows how to treat a footballer, but Carlo knows how to treat a person.
“After Mourinho I went to Pep Guardiola, the big brain in football. He had all these solutions for every team we played against, knowing exactly what we needed to do to win, exactly how he wanted it achieved. We could be winning 2–0 at half-time, but he would say, ‘We’re not finished here. I want three, four, five, six, seven.’ He was like a machine.”
Ibrahimovic could find himself playing under Mourinho again next season, with speculation rife that both men will move to Manchester United in the summer.
The 34-year-old PSG striker will be a free agent when the transfer window opens and Old Trafford is understood to be his preferred destination.