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Manchester United can knock on with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being suspended

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was charged with alleged violent conduct by the FA on Monday afternoon which could result in a three-match suspension, possible more being dealt in his direction. During the ill-tempered 1-1 draw between United and Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, the Swede elbowed Tyrone Mings, which was unseen by the referee, Kevin Friend. Moments before the elbow, Mings was jumping over a felled Ibrahimovic and appeared to stamp on his head after Mings took out Rooney in a challenge, Zlatan fell over Rooney and Mings tried to avoid the situation. The FA have charged Mings also, but a statement by the FA seemed to suggest further attention will be paid to the stamp. The FA statement said:

“The players were involved in two separate incidents in or around the 44th minute which were not seen by the match officials at the time but caught on video.

“Furthermore, The FA has submitted a claim that the standard punishment that would otherwise apply for the misconduct committed by the Bournemouth defender is ‘clearly insufficient’.

“Off the ball incidents which are not seen at the time by the match officials are referred to a panel of three former elite referees.

“Each referee panel member will review the video footage independently of one another to determine whether they consider it a sending-off offence. For retrospective action to be taken, and an FA charge to follow, the decision of the panel must be unanimous.”

The FA suggest that Mings’ actions are different to those of Ibrahimovic and the standard punishment, in this case, a three-match suspension is ‘clearly insufficient’. This will be deliberated by a three-man panel of former referees and a suspension will be handed to the Bournemouth defender, which would be fully deserved, not matter what Mings has said to try to deter this from happening.

The bile coming from Manchester United supporters after the fracas on Saturday was reactionary. I saw so-called supporters of the club on social media suggesting that Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be sold on, should not be given a new contract and should be dropped for the remainder of the season. This coming a week after he was the guy that ensures United won their first trophy of the season with his brace against Southampton at Wembley to win the EFL Cup. Zlatan has scored 26 goals this season in all competitions, which is a good tally of goals considering this is something United had struggled to score goals in the three seasons following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Ibrahimovic was compared to Eric Cantona for his winning mentality and the aura surrounding him. It is a Roy Keane-esque player that Zlatan really is, though.

United supporters have been looking for a player to give United aggression, I am sure if you look back on social media over the last five or six years, you will see such comments. The moment that kind of aggression comes, United supporter’s, or at least so-called supporters then turn on their own in order to see who can prove themselves as the most offended supporter, as if it is something these idiots can pin to their chests in their pursuit of becoming a top red, if there is such a thing. Zlatan dealt with what was thrown at him at Old Trafford on Saturday, Tyrone Mings deserved what he got and he can think about what could have been as Keane would not have been so forgiving with him. In fact, he would be lucky if he was only stretchered off the pitch.

Many are suggesting that Zlatan’s impending suspension could cost United, which could be the case. The same people are also discussing that United are over-reliant on Zlatan, which poses some questions. How can you say both things, which are polar opposites? If you are saying a suspension will be costly but are also saying the club is too dependent on Zlatan, obviously, the suspension could bring a positive effect. United have many attacking players they could utilise with Zlatan being on the sidelines during domestic matches. Marcus Rashford needs a chance through the middle as with Zlatan on the pitch, he’s utilised as a winger, something he is not but is learning the various attacking positions to get the club through the season and to make himself a better player.

Anthony Martial could also play through the middle. His best football for United has been played on the left-flank, and having him playing through the middle could pose a problem – who would fill in on the left? Henrikh Mkhitaryan could play in that role, as he has for Borussia Dortmund over the years. He could also play the number ten role, his favoured role, or even on the right. Keeping him in the number ten role, behind Rashford would be best, though, with Martial on the left and one of Juan Mata or Jesse Lingard playing on the right. United have many options with Zlatan being out of domestic matches. Of course, getting through Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup on Monday may be tough without him, but that is where the over-reliance can be solved. The players have to see that things can go to plan without a particular player being in the team.

The break for Zlatan will be good for him also. He can now play in both UEFA Europa League matches against FC Rostov. He will miss the Emirates FA Cup clash with Chelsea and the Premier League matches with Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion, providing it is a three-match ban, of course. He could well miss more matches. All going well, Zlatan could be back for the visit of Everton on the 4th April, which will give him plenty of time to recharge his batteries being that there is an international break coming after the 19th March, for a fortnight, with the Swede not playing any football whatsoever. This suspension could be what United need to show that they have another plan in their locker, which could also see the likes of Martial, Rashford, and others finding their feet in important matches. Something to quell the moaning of those suggesting that Rashford is not getting the game time needed to kick on at the club.

Written by Mike Wilson

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