After cup win, Mourinho hopes Ibrahimovic stays at United
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 27, 2017 10:17 AM
United manager Jose Mourinho, left, hugs United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic after they won the English League Cup final soccer match between Manchester United and Southampton FC at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer
LONDON (AP) — Six months into their first seasons at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have collected their first winners' medals.
Just how long this partnership of serial winners endures at United remains uncertain.
There's little doubt Mourinho wants Ibrahimovic to commit to staying at United into next season, especially after the 35-year-old striker's double clinched the League Cup with a 3-2 victory over Southampton on Sunday.
But Mourinho hopes the supporters will take direct action to convince the Swede to sign the contract extension the club has offered.
"I never beg for a player to sign a contract," said Mourinho, who previously coached Ibrahimovic at Inter Milan. "One day Zlatan decided to go to Barcelona. I was very sad but I did nothing to try stop him from going.
"So I don't beg for players but if needed I think maybe United fans can go to the door of his house and stay there and stay there all night if needed. I think they will go for sure. "
Especially after seeing the veteran take his United tally to 26 goals while younger captain Wayne Rooney was relegated to a non-playing role on the bench at Wembley Stadium. Rooney reaffirmed his future to United last week, rather than moving to China before its deadline-day on Tuesday, but it is a commitment from Ibrahimovic that the club is keener to hear.
"We will believe that he is going to stay with us one more season," Mourinho said.
Ibrahimovic's first goal in the first final of the season came in the 18th minute, direct from a free kick. Jesse Lingard doubled United's advantage in the 38th minute to add to his Wembley goals in the FA Cup final and Community Shield in 2016.
But United threw away its advantage as Manolo Gabbiadini scored either side of halftime to draw Southampton level in its pursuit of a first major trophy since beating United in the 1976 FA Cup final. The game was heading into extra time but Ibrahimovic had other ideas, meeting Ander Herrera's cross with a bullet header in the 87th minute.
"The man here made the difference," Paul Pogba, the world's most expensive player, said next to Ibrahimovic on the field. "That's why we bought him."
Ibrahimovic interjected: "Bought him? I came for free."
Out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain, Ibrahimovic wanted to test himself in English football for the first time. He's passed the test, becoming a trophy winner in a fifth country after honors in France (Paris Saint-Germain), Italy (Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan), Spain (Barcelona) and the Netherlands (Ajax).
But it is United now on course for a treble, still in contention for the FA Cup and Europa League.
The bigger target, though, is returning to the Champions League through winning the Europa League or by finishing in the Premier League's top four. United is currently sixth, two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
TOTTENHAM 4, STOKE 0
In the day's only Premier League game, Harry Kane scored a first-half hat trick before setting up Dele Alli's strike as Tottenham moved to second in the standings, 10 points behind Chelsea.
Tottenham's eighth successive league win at White Hart Lane equals the club record set in 2009.