Ibrahimovic explains problem with van Gaal - is this a warning to United?

Manchester United Old Trafford

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is one of the focal points for Paris Saint-Germain hotshot's wrath in recent interview.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has always been a bit of a trailblazer, particularly in sport.

While athletes who operate at the very highest echelons of football can become enamoured with being legends of one club, Ibrahimovic is a legend of football in general - not least because the longest he has ever stayed at one club is three years.

His current employer, Paris Saint-Germain, are the seventh professional outfit he has represented. However, he has excelled everywhere - whether that is the Allsvenskan, Eredivisie, Serie A, La Liga or Ligue 1.

Ibrahimovic, though, is also a trailblazer in life, as this quote from his must-read biography I Am Zlatan is testament to: "One time I got dressed in all black, Rambo-style, and took a massive pair of bolt-cutters and nicked a military bike."

With a renegade approach to life outside football can come quotable copy written about those within the industry - and Ibrahimovic is not impressed with recently-appointed Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, who he worked with at Ajax.

"He’s the old tradition," said the Sweden international, who won't be competing at the FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil due to the country's failure to reach the finals in Brazil, told Sports Illustrated.

"The old general," he added. "He’s the boss and everybody else can, how do you say—they’re soldiers. I mean, you have to have a little bit of feeling in the whole thing."

On a recent report on HITC: Sport via The Independent, van Gaal himself revealed that there are many elite-level footballers who are angry with him - like Franck Ribery and Rivaldo, amongst others.

Ibrahimovic backed this: "Many big stars have problems with him because of the way he is. I understand if you’re 15 to 20 years old, you put the discipline there. Which is normal, because I was in Holland, I was in that school where he built up Ajax.

"And I understand it, but when you come to a team with 22 big stars, that’s what you treat them like? Like small boys?"

The short-lived tenure of David Moyes at Old Trafford was plagued by rumours of discontent amongst the locker room. Due to van Gaal's own admission about togetherness within the Netherlands national football team - whom he bosses for the duration of the World Cup - it was believed he would foster a similar locker-room atmosphere at United.

Ibrahimovic, though, may beg to differ. He reminisced: "We were in a dining room and sitting there until he says, “Ok, go ahead, now you can eat.” Then suddenly we could eat. So we could not eat before he says. 

"I talked about it in the book. [Rafael Van der Vaart] got injured and he was blaming me that I did it on purpose. I said to him I didn’t do it on purpose. And so it went on, and at the end I said will not play if Van der Vaart is to play because my own captain is attacking me and blaming me for injuring him.

"Instead of protecting your team as a captain outside the team and also inside the team, he is doing totally the opposite. He is trying now to attack me and get everybody against me.

"And we had a meeting with Van Gaal and he says, “Listen. I’m the boss. If I tell you to play, you play.” And I was like, “You’re the boss but if I tell you I will not play as long as Van der Vaart is playing, I’m not playing. If you can’t understand nothing just sit and wait and you will see me that I will not play."

He then concluded: "That was my last week at Ajax."

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