MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Jan 17 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic has warned Paul Pogba he will have to learn to deal with pressure if he is to develop into one of the world’s top players.
Pogba, the most expensive footballer in history, endured an afternoon to forget at Old Trafford on Sunday as he gave away a penalty during Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with bitter rivals Liverpool.
Much was expected of the French midfielder heading into the game after his impressive form of late but, although he failed to deliver on the day, Ibrahimovic believes his young team-mate will learn from the experience.
“Pressure is something I enjoy,” Ibrahimovic said. “I don’t know Paul personally to be able to answer that for him. But I think he likes it also because, without pressure, we would not be on our toes at the top level.
“If you want to play at the top, pressure is 24 hours, and if you play well or better the pressure becomes even greater.
“So it’s something that we learn from and something we have to handle because we belong to the top, Paul belongs to the top absolutely and the pressure will be there.”
Pogba became the first Premier League to get his own Twitter emoji in the build-up to Sunday’s game and during the match the advertising hoardings around the pitch were projecting his image.
There were questions as to whether Pogba was overwhelmed against Liverpool but Ibrahimovic believes there were practical reasons for his lack of influence.
When asked if the Twitter emoji adverts heaped too much pressure on Pogba, Ibrahimovic said: “I think football is like that today. With the social media, the media building up the game.
“When I started to play football there was no social media, none of these things. But it’s part of the game now. What is too much, what is too less? We don’t know. We just follow the game. We are professional, we train like always, try to do our best every game.
“For Paul (on Sunday) the game was different. It was a dirty game, in the way we had to play more direct, by jumping over the midfield because the pressure Liverpool put on us was hard.
“It was difficult. The first game against them was the same. The guys told me every game we play against Liverpool looks like this.”
Ibrahimovic is in tremendous form for United and sits joint-top of the Premier League goal-scoring charts with 14, alongside Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez.
“The pressure I have all around me is nothing compared to the pressure I put on myself,” Ibrahimovic said.
“I really want to do not perfect, more than perfect, every game, even in training. I’m not happy if I don’t win in training so imagine what it’s like in the games.
“That is the pressure I put on myself and so your pressure becomes like a kindergarten for me.
“My pressure is really high. I’m not satisfied until I get what I want. What I want is to win.”
Sunday’s result snapped United’s six-game winning streak in the Premier League and left them sixth in the table, 12 points adrift of leaders Chelsea.
Ibrahimovic is confident United are playing well enough to close the gap on their top-four rivals but he did lament the series of frustrating home draws earlier this season which have given Jose Mourinho’s side a lot of work to do.
“Of course [there is little margin for error now],” he said. “Imagine if we’d got those points [dropped early in season], where we’d be now? It’d be a big difference. But, okay, we’re paying for it.
“We had a gap where there was a distance to the top five but now we’re closer. From second to us is five points, Chelsea is 12. We are there, we just wait for the other ones to do mistakes.
“If we could have won against Liverpool it’d have been a fantastic result but we take the draw and let’s see what the other teams do.
“Hopefully they make mistakes and have their own dip because we had our dips. We just need to win and keep going like we’re doing. We’ve got great confidence.”
-By Sky Sports-