Jose Mourinho says he needs to rest Zlatan Ibrahimovic
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 16/12/16 10:20pm
Jose Mourinho says the impact Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made for Manchester United is “phenomenal” but admits he needs to find ways to give the veteran striker a rest.
The 35-year-old Swede showed his class on Wednesday when he produced a stunning finish in the 88th minute at Selhurst Park to secure a 2-1 win for United against Crystal Palace.
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Ibrahimovic has missed only one Premier League game for United this season, the 1-1 draw with Arsenal last month when he was suspended, scoring nine goals in those 15 matches.
The veteran forward has quickly emerged as a talisman at Old Trafford and Mourinho confirmed he will again start against West Brom on Saturday, though he does admit he needs to find ways to rest him.
"Tomorrow is a last effort and then they will have a week without football," Mourinho said. "That week is a week that my players need, especially a guy like him - a striker.
"Sometimes in other positions you can protect yourself a little bit more with experience and with positon but a striker is one of the impossible positions where you cannot hide.
"So he is doing phenomenal. Tomorrow he is going to play again but obviously he cannot play 60 matches. I must give him a rest.
"But as our target striker we can say that he is the only one and the way we normally play we need him."
United head to The Hawthorns on Saturday to take on a West Brom side in excellent form with four wins and a draw from their last six Premier League games.
The Red Devils are six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City but Mourinho feels if his side can get positive results from their next three matches against the Baggies, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, they will set themselves up for a big second half of the season.
Mourinho said: "Halfway through the race is not until 31 December, but I would say for the first half of the race it would be almost impossible to be in the top four.
"But, one thing is to be 15 points from the top four; another is to be five points from the top four.
"What we have to try to do in these three remaining matches [in December] is be in a position that gives us a chance in the second part of the season.
"We are playing really well; if we can transform performances into results, we have a chance."