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07th Mar 2017

5 players that can (attempt to) fill Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s boots during his ban

Thank us later, José

Simon Lloyd

Despite carving out more chances in the first 20 minutes against Bournemouth than they managed in two years under Louis van Gaal, Manchester United are having a bit of bother putting the ball in the back of the net.

To make matters worse, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play for their next three domestic games.

His decision to throw an elbow into the face of Tyrone Mings was worthy of an FA charge, and United’s top scorer will now miss the FA Cup match with Chelsea this weekend, as well as league games with West Brom and Middlesbrough.

But don’t you worry, José. We’ve saved you a bit of work by coming up with five members of your squad that could (but in some cases probably won’t) do a job up top for you in the next couple of weeks.

Just for a laugh, we’ve included a couple of names that have close to no chance at all of getting a call up.

Thank us later, José pal.

Anthony Martial

At a time when United’s attacking players have developed a habit of making every third-rate goalkeeper under the sun look like Gianluigi Buffon on performance enhancing drugs, Martial seems like an obvious temporary solution.

As he showed in his debut season, he’s not the type of player to fluff his lines too often when in a one-on-one situation, something which hasn’t come his way quite as frequently after spending most of this season on the bench, on the wing, or recording himself driving in his car while listening to French rap music.

Marcus Rashford

The man most people expect to play through the middle in Zlatan’s absence, sticking Rashford through the middle would make sense. Not only does he possess searing pace, many of his goals for the club show that he’s got that knack of being in the right place at the right time in the area.

Marouane Fellaini

Admittedly, this one is a bit of a stretch. Not known for his clinical finishing ability, we’re not saying that sticking Maroane Fellaini up top will make bring out his inner R9, but as United learned when the Belgian was still at Everton, he causes havoc when he plays in a more advanced position.

United also reaped the benefits when he played in a more attacking role (albeit number 10) towards the end of the 2014/15 season, helping them to victories over Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool.  Playing him up top will keep an element of the aerial threat they will lose with Zlatan, and will also mean there’s no chance of him tripping over his own feet as he pretends to be a midfielder.

And if you think that’s a stretch, wait until you see who we’ve got as our fourth choice.

Wayne Rooney

Remember the days when Wayne Rooney was a striker? Although the general consensus is that those days are behind him now, playing him as a number nine with the pace of the likes of Rashford, Martial and Mkhitaryan around him might be an option for the three games ahead. Will it happen though? Probably not, no.

Ashley bloody Young

Yeah, we told you this one was a bit of a strange choice.

Obviously, this isn’t going to happen. But because this is the internet, we had to have a list of five and not four, didn’t we?

Anyway, it’s worth reminding ourselves that, thanks to Louis van Gaal, Ashley Young is one of the few other members of the United squad to have played as a striker in recent years.

For reasons unknown, the now-retired Dutchman opted to stick Young as United’s lone striker for the duration of the second half at Tottenham towards the end of last season. He hardy had a kick.

The fact that he is one of the only players in the squad to have played in that role is another reminder of how United could probably do with throwing another ridiculously inflated transfer fee at another striker.