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Ibrahimovic blasts 'spineless coward' Guardiola

ESPN staff
September 6, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was slightly more complimentary about Jose Mourinho © AP
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hit out at former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, labelling him a "spineless coward" and while also stating his time at the Catalan club was like "being back at school".

Ibrahimovic, who now plies his trade in Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain, did not hold back from criticising the current Bayern Munich manager in his new autobiography I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The striker spent one full season with Barca in La Liga following a £56.5 million move from Inter Milan. However, the Swede has used the book to tear into his experience at the club and claims stars such as Lionel Messi and Xavi were treated like school children.

"I'd already got the impression that Barcelona was a little like being back at school," Ibrahimovic wrote. "None of the lads acted like superstars, which was strange. [Lionel] Messi, Xavi, [Andreas] Iniesta, the whole gang - they were like schoolboys.

"The best footballers in the world stood there with their heads bowed and I didn't understand any of it. It was ridiculous. Everyone did as they were told. I didn't fit in, not at all. I thought, just enjoy the opportunity, don't confirm their prejudices.

"So I started to adapt and blend in. I became way too nice. It was mental. I said what I thought people wanted me to say. It was completely messed up. I drove the club's Audi and stood there and nodded my head.

"I hardly even yelled at my team-mates any more. I was boring. Zlatan was no longer Zlatan."

Ibrahimovic goes on to reveal how tempers flared between him and Guardiola following Barcelona's 2010 Champions League semi-final exit to his old club Inter Milan, who were managed at the time by Jose Mourinho.

"I completely lost it," Ibrahimovic said. "You might have expected Guardiola to say a few words in response, but he's a spineless coward."

In stark contrast to his opinions on Guardiola, the 31-year-old was much more complimentary about Mourinho, who has since returned to the Premier League to manage Chelsea.

"Mourinho would become a guy I was basically willing to die for," Ibrahimovic says. "He works twice as hard as all the rest. [He] Lives and breathes football 24/7. I've never met a manager with that kind of knowledge about the opposing sides.

"It was everything, right down to the third-choice goalkeeper's shoe size. He's elegant, he's confident. He looked small next to the players but I sensed it immediately: there was this vibe around him.

"Mourinho created personal ties with the players with his text messages and his knowledge of our situations with wives and children, and he didn't shout.

"He built us up before matches. It was like theatre, a psychological game."

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