London: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hit out at the Bayern Munich manager, Pep Guardiola, describing his former manager at Barcelona as a “a spineless coward”.
Ibrahimovic joined the Catalan club in 2009 from Inter Milan as Guardiola looked to add a different dimension to his side’s attack and despite trying to fit in with the club’s modest philosophy, the maverick striker soon found himself alienated by Guardiola .
“He (Guardiola) was a brick wall. I didn’t see any signs of life in him, and every hour I wished I could be out of the club,” Ibrahimovic wrote in his biography, I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“I didn’t belong any more, and when we had an away match with Villarreal, he let me play for five minutes. I was seething inside.”
After the match, Ibrahimovic was furious in the dressing room and responded with a tirade in front of his teammates against Guardiola: “Yaya Toure was there, and a few others, and then there was the metal box where we put our kit from the match, and I was staring at that box. Then I gave it a kick. I think it went flying about three metres, but I wasn’t finished yet. Not by a long chalk.
“I yelled, ‘You haven’t got any balls!’ and worse than that I added, ‘You’re s******* yourself in front of (Jose) Mourinho. You can go to hell!’
“I completely lost it, and you might have expected Guardiola to say a few words in response, but he’s a spineless coward. He just picked up the metal box, like a little caretaker, and then left, never to mention it again, not a word.” Ibrahimovic left the club after two seasons in 2011 rejoining AC Milan before moving to his current side, Paris Saint-Germain.
Ibrahimovic’s attitude towards Guardiola is in stark contrast to how he felt working under Mourinho at Inter Milan. The Portugese took over from Roberto Mancini in 2008 and the forward was immediately impressed with his new manager’s attitude towards the players as well as his work ethic. Unlike the standoffish Guardiola, Mourinho engaged with his players and kept abreast of their family situations. He also wasn’t afraid to stand up to the stars in a squad. “Mourinho would become a guy I was basically willing to die for,” writes Ibrahimovic.
The forward’s autobiography also reveals that he was close to joining Manchester City in 2011.
Despite the fact that the club was awash with money, Ibrahimovic said that he was not motivated by financial concerns and that he preferred Milan since “there was no club with a history like AC Milan”.
The book also details how he almost joined Arsenal from the Swedish club Malmo. Then, aged 20, Ibrahimovic flew to London to speak to the club about a transfer. He arrived at Arsenal’s training ground where he met the team and the manager, Arsene Wenger.