What’s the story?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Tyrone Mings of Bournemouth jumped into his elbow in a coming together during their Premier League fixture at Old Trafford on Saturday. Both players jumped in the air to compete for an aerial ball only for Ibrahimovic’s elbow to make contact with the defender.
Denying any claims of purposeful wrongdoing on his part, the former Paris-Saint Germain striker told MUTV: “With the elbow situation, I jumped, I protect myself, I jump very high, he jumps into me, I think he jumps backwards, and I jump straight up and unfortunately he jumps into my elbow.
“Hopefully he's not injured or something. Situation happens, I go for the ball and unluckily he jumped into my elbow. Nothing on purpose, nothing to do about it now. Hopefully he's not injured.”
In case you didn’t know
Manchester United lost out on a crucial three points in their controversial fixture against the Cherries which ended 1-1 and the incident involving Mings and Zlatan did not help matters. Seconds before Mings and Zlatan made contact, the former Ipswich player stamped on the forward’s head after he had fallen to the ground.
Referee Kevin Friend saw neither of these infractions and instead showed Bournemouth captain Andrew Surman a second yellow for pushing the Swede.
However, after a long interval during which Rooney and the fourth official reminded Friend that Surman had to go off because of his second booking, he chose to leave both Ings and Zlatan unpunished.
Heart of the matter
Even though Kevin Friend let the matter slide, the FA will not be as kind since both Ibrahimovic and Mings’ fouls are actionable. While both men feign innocence, the football governing body will take a long hard look at their behaviour before arriving at a decision. Ibrahimovic’s response, while typical, will hardly pass muster once it is held up to careful scrutiny.
There is no word on Mings’s fate yet but Ibrahimovic is likely to face a three-match ban which would see him ruled out of their FA Cup quarter-final draw against Chelsea in a little over a week’s time. If that is the decision that comes through, United will be keen on appealing the suspension.
After the freak accident that happened with Fernando Torres in the midweek, fouls like the ones committed by the two players should be heavily punished to discourage such reckless behaviour. The suspension will definitely inconvenience Manchester United greatly but the FA have a responsibility to make the right decision here and send a strong message to all English clubs.