Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said he was surprised by Manchester United’s “small, closed mentality” upon signing for the club in 2016, bemoaning the fact that he was once deducted £1 from his lucrative salary for enjoying a fruit juice from the mini bar on an away trip.
Ibrahimovic, 40, signed for United from Paris Saint-Germain and enjoyed a successful campaign in the Premier League, scoring 17 goals in 28 appearances. He helped United to win the Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League during his time at Old Trafford.
But, reflecting on his spell in England in his new autobiography Adrenaline, Ibrahimovic was surprised to learn how the club — “one of the richest and most powerful in the world” — operated on a day-to-day basis.
“One thing surprised me: everyone thinks of United as a top club, one of the richest and most powerful in the world and seen from the outside it looked that way to me,” he writes. “But once I was there I found a small, closed mentality.”
Ibrahimovic was nonplussed when the club removed Wayne Rooney’s name from his locker the day after his move back to Everton, while the Sweden international was particularly outraged at being charged for a bottle of fruit juice.
“One day I was in the hotel with the team before a game. I got thirsty so I opened the mini-bar and had a fruit juice,” he writes.
“We played and then went home. Some time went by. My pay slip arrives. Normally I don’t look at it. I only do so at the end of the year to see what’s come in and what’s gone out. But that time, I don’t know why, I was curious and realised they’d taken a pound off my monthly wage.
“I called the team manager: ‘Excuse me, why have they taken a pound off my salary.’ The team manager had a look and told me: ‘It was the fruit juice from the mini-bar.’ ‘Are you kidding, seriously?’ ‘No, I’m not. Here, if you order something you have to pay for it.’ ‘Sure, but I didn’t go to the hotel on my own accord. I wasn’t on holiday. It was my work place. I was there for Manchester. If I have to play and I’m thirsty, I have to drink. I can’t go on the pitch dehydrated.’
“Can you believe it? A quid? Something like that would never happen in Italy. These are the details that make a difference and earn the respect of the players.
“Every day I was asked to show my papers just to get into the training ground. I’d lower my window and say to the person at the gate: ‘Listen my friend I’ve been coming here every day for a month. I’m the best player in the world. If you still don’t recognise me, you’re in the wrong job.’”
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