In Brief

Jose Mourinho takes on Michael Owen over Ibrahimovic comment

Man Utd boss has a twinkle in his eye as he bites back at the pundits

After Jurgen Klopp's spat with pundits Phil and Gary Neville it seemed inevitable that other managers would follow suit. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has wasted little time in taking a mischievous swipe at BT Sport analyst Michael Owen, after he had the temerity to question Zlatan Ibrahimovic's value to his side.

Owen had suggested that the Swedish striker did not represent a long-term option for United and that the club would need to find a younger striker.

But talking to BT Sport, Mourinho said it was obvious that Owen did "not like" Ibrahimovic, and added: "The reality is that Zlatan will score more goals in one season than Michael Owen in three seasons at Man United. He scored 17 goals in three seasons, Zlatan is almost there in six months, so he's not a bad choice for us."

When the comments were replayed to Owen, he remarked: "Managers are getting awfully touchy, aren't they?"

He also hit back by insisting his goals for United were worth more "because I cost about ten per cent of what Zlatan is on a week".

The exchange was described by the Daily Mail as a "light-hearted war of words", in contrast to the row between Liverpool manager Klopp and two other former United players, Phil and Gary Neville.

United fans may be relieved to see Mourinho speaking with a twinkle in his eye once again. For much of his time at Old Trafford, the Portuguese manager has cut a morose figure, short with the press and his players alike. Over at Anfield, the avuncular Klopp has been his usual charming self.

But the two incidents this week suggest the roles could be reversing in line with performances on the pitch. United beat Spurs on Sunday and are now unbeaten in the league since October. Liverpool followed up their shock defeat to Bournemouth with a draw against struggling West Ham at Anfield at the weekend.

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