Zlatan Ibrahimovic again compared himself to a lion after returning from a knee injury in the 4-1 win over Newcastle at Old Trafford.
The Swedish forward had said in February “lions do not compare themselves to humans” when asked to rate himself against other strikers in the Premier League.
Ibrahimovic has been out since April with a knee ligament injury, and was initially scheduled to return no earlier than January, only to step up his recovery and return two months early.
After coming on as a second-half substitute in United’s win on Saturday, Ibrahimovic was asked if he ever doubted he would return, and he told BT Sport 1: “No, because lions, they don’t recover like humans.”
The Swede added: “It’s special. Different day, same quality. I am not worried. I am not worried at all because I know what I do. I train hard. I sacrificed a lot.
“It is not easy, especially in my case. It was not like I went on vacation. I had a different summer because I was without a contract. As soon as I signed I wanted to focus on the team. I wanted to give something to help the team as best as possible.
“It’s about coming back and making a statement. I’m just thankful I can play football again.”
Dwight Gayle opened the scoring for Newcastle but the hosts replied with goals from Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.
Pogba said it was more important that United won than he scored on his own comeback from two months out.
“We won, we have the three points and that is most important thing,” he said. “Zlatan Ibrahimovic, me and Marcos Rojo came back from injury so we are happy.
“I see the same team and feel the same atmosphere. The season is very long, it is not about now, it is about the end. We just forget the criticism.
“It hurts when you are not playing, you want to help the team, but you just have to do your recovery.”
Pogba might have been humble, but United boss Mourinho gave him the credit along with Nemanja Matic.
“Paul Pogba is different class — Paul and Nemanja Matic grew up together at the start of the season and are the engine of the team. It was in Paul’s hands, how many minutes to play until he began to feel fatigued. It was a great performance from him,” the manager said.
“I know that strikers depend on goals for confidence and happiness. I was really happy to see him score his goal.”
And Mourinho said the return of his top players can only help heading into the busy holiday period.
“You recover some players and you lose others, some teams are luckier,” he said. “We have had to go through difficult matches without important players, let us see if we can go through the Christmas period with all the players available at our disposal. The more players we have, the better for me.”
The win keeps United eight points back of Manchester City through 12 games, and Mourinho said he was only focused on his side’s results at this stage.
“We go match to match — we can only play Manchester City twice in a season,” he added. “In those games we will try to take points — outside of those fixtures we are not in control.”