Zlatan Ibrahimovic has called Pep Guardiola the most immature manager he has worked under for benching him during his one-year stint at Barcelona.
Ibrahimovic had success to begin his Barcelona career, and ended up finishing his one-year run with the club scoring 16 goals in 29 games, 23 of those starts.
On the surface, it seemed like a match made in heaven, teaming up with the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Thierry Henry, but a falling out with then-manager Pep Guardiola spoiled the party for Ibrahimovic.
Speaking this week with Sky Sports Italia after Ibrahimovic and Manchester United lost 2-1 to Guardiola and Manchester City, the striker said: “I’d scored a lot of goals in my first six months and we won two Super Cups. The first six months were perfect.”
The catalyst, Ibrahimovic claims, was his decision to confront Guardiola for a change in tactics which lessened the roles of other players in favor of expanding Messi’s.
“After that, we changed system and tactics, and it wasn’t good for me, so the club told me to talk to Guardiola.
“And I told Guardiola that he’d sacrificed the other players for Messi. He told me he understood me.
“After that, he put me on the bench for the next game, the one after that and the one after that.
“And I thought, ‘he’s solved the problem very well I see!’ After that, he didn’t talk to me or even look at me.
“I’d walk into a room and he’d walk out. I’d go to meet him and he’d go somewhere else. I understood that there was something beyond football.”
However, Ibrahimovic believes while that may have been the final straw, there were issues between him and Guardiola from the beginning.
“But the problem was his, it was he who hadn’t solved the problem with me. I remember on my first day, he told me that the Barcelona players didn’t turn up to training in Ferraris or Porsches.
“He’d already judged me then, but if you don’t know a person then you can’t judge them. I had my experience with him, I don’t know about others.
“But I read the same thing had happened to Mandzukic and Eto’o. He wasn’t the worst coach I’d worked under, but he was certainly the most immature because a man solves his problems.”