Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden return was brief but Janne Andersson has created a culture that can thrive without him

When Zlatan Ibrahimovic described the omission of Dejan Kulusevski from the Sweden beginning line-up to play France in September as “an absolute joke” his return to the worldwide area appeared extremely unlikely. “More proof that incompetent people in the wrong positions are suffocating Swedish football,” continued Ibrahimovic through Twitter.

It might solely be interpreted as a stinging criticism of Janne Andersson, the Sweden coach. And but, inside weeks of these phrases, the pair had been in discussions to finish the striker’s worldwide exile.

Ibrahimovic returned from his five-year absence in March.

The subsequent damage to the AC Milan striker robs Sweden of their largest title and the match of certainly one of its extra recognisable characters. But Andersson is strengthened by the entire episode.

He was the larger man. Now he can return to his work – the work that took Sweden to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2018 – understanding that he did all he might. But did he actually don’t have any subject recalling somebody who had questioned him so publicly?

“There was no problem at all,” Andersson tells Sky Sports.

“For me, I’ve no status in that manner. I do not look again and assume, ‘Oh, he mentioned that’. I do not care. I meet the particular person. I discuss with the particular person. Either we attain an settlement as we did right here, 100 per cent. Or not. Then we can go away it behind us and transfer on in that manner.

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“You have to do that if there is a player like Zlatan. My job is to get results and if there is a player who is good enough to be in the team then, of course, I have to investigate and talk to him. I have to try to find a way that we can work together.”

Andersson’s pragmatism is illustrated by the method that led to the participant’s recall. It was in November, after receiving his prize as the perfect Swedish participant, that Ibrahimovic declared his want to play for the nationwide staff once more. That was sufficient to immediate motion.

“He was sometimes teasing that he would come back but that was the first time that he had really said it like that. Before that, he had just been talking but this time he said it like he really meant it.

“I spoke to the final secretary and informed him to arrange a assembly with Zlatan so we might speak about it. He needed that too so I went to Milan. We talked about what had occurred over the previous few years. We put that away and determined to speak concerning the future.”

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It was on the subsequent assembly in February that Andersson actually laid out his plans, making a detailed presentation outlining his imaginative and prescient for Ibrahimovic’s function on the pitch and off it.

“I presented to him the idea of how we play, how we work in the national team today. It was like when I was a club coach buying a new player. We needed to explain to him that we work like this. Zlatan was new to our club. In this national team, we work in this way.

“We had been in 100 per cent settlement about every part. We had no issues in any respect. He got here in March and he was actually good. As a participant, in fact, within the two video games that he performed, but additionally as a particular person off the pitch, as a chief for the younger gamers. It was excellent.”

Zlatan dominated out of Euros

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was dominated out of the Euros with a knee damage in May

That modified when Ibrahimovic succumbed to a knee damage in May. It was a setback for him and for Sweden given that optimism had begun to construct. The return of the long-lasting striker might have been the ultimate piece within the puzzle taking Andersson’s staff to new heights.

“At the World Cup, nobody knew anything about us because Zlatan and the other players had finished so we were starting almost from zero. But then we started to build something up and people started to think we were a good team. Today, I think maybe people think too much of us but I cannot do much about it.

“The thought of how we wish to play has been the identical all through these 5 years. How good it depends upon how good the gamers are who we play inside the system. I feel at the moment now we have extra gamers with extra qualities than we had two or three years in the past.”

Speaking to Andersson, that balance between being ambitious and being realistic is one he strives to get right. He believes in his players but when he talks of the “have to preserve the issues we had been doing nicely” it is clear that he is keen to manage expectations.

“Now we can play in additional alternative ways but now we have to decide on the appropriate strategy to obtain the perfect outcomes. I take into consideration that a lot.”


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Do not anticipate Sweden to go for a flamboyant type of play, the type of expansive sport that dangers them being uncovered defensively. That will not be what labored for them on the World Cup and their experiences since then have solely satisfied Andersson of the necessity for warning.

A Nations League group that included France, Croatia and Portugal was a large check. “We learned a lot from those games,” he says.

Not the entire classes had been straightforward.

“We were a bit naïve,” provides Andersson.

“We tried to play in every part of the pitch. Against Portugal, for example, they just killed us when we did that. When we played against France at home in Stockholm, we had nine shots to their six and more possession than France had but we lost 1-0.

“After the sport, we had been all in settlement. We can not play like this towards these type of groups as a result of they’re too good and they’ll kill us. So now we have to be smarter. When you’re Sweden, you need to work laborious on the defence in any other case you get issues.

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“We will be hard, compact and difficult to score goals against. We need to have more possession, we need to attack, but we also need to be strong defensively and not lose.

“If you return to the World Cup, we had been actually robust on the defence after which we might rating on the counter-attack. Now we’re in a position to have extra possession than we used to have but we nonetheless have to seek out the appropriate steadiness to get the perfect outcomes.”

It is pure that Andersson ought to hark again to occasions in Russia in 2018. That summer time was a triumph for the 58-year-old coach as he confounded expectations by topping a group that included defending champions Germany, South Korea and Mexico.

Sweden misplaced to England within the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Victory over Switzerland within the knockout levels arrange a quarter-final with England and whereas that proved a sport too far it nonetheless represents Sweden’s greatest World Cup in six makes an attempt. Andersson was named coach of the 12 months on the Swedish sports activities awards.

“It was my first tournament so I certainly learned a lot,” he says.

“You have to have a good culture, a good environment, and we had that. We liked to be together for a long time. In 2018, it was 48 days from the start to the finish so the group is so important. How we act, how we behave around one another. It was really good.

“I’ve the perfect job on the earth.

“This is the top job for a Swede. I do not want to be like Sven-Goran Eriksson and coach England. The Sweden national team coach is the best job for a Swede.

“I take pleasure in it but I work actually laborious and I make others round me work laborious. I feel that is the one strategy to have success. Nothing roughly than that. That is what I do. If folks like that, nice. If they do not prefer it, I can do no extra.”

Everyone knows where they stand with Andersson. Even Ibrahimovic came to understand that in the end. It is why – even without their star player – it would not be a surprise if Sweden are able to safely negotiate a group that includes Spain, Poland and Slovakia.

“I hope that we go additional. That is essential for us. After that, hopefully, we can trigger issues for among the large nations. It simply has to be a kind of days the place everyone seems to be at their prime degree.

“Anything can happen.”

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