Cristiano Ronaldo has been struggling for goals lately for Manchester United with just one in 2022 so far.
Edinson Cavani’s injury absence has been a thorn in Ronaldo’s side, with United unable to rotate, and Anthony Martial loaned out while Mason Greenwood is discarded for the foreseeable future.
Alternatives to Ronaldo consist of potentially using Bruno Fernandes as a false nine to promoting 18-year-old striker Charlie McNeill, who is talented but probably not quite ready.
There is one more option which was a proven success in the Premier League last season; Jesse Lingard.
Lingard showed ability to play as emergency striker
West Ham have had a long-standing striker problem and during Lingard’s loan in East London, the United attacker was called upon to solve them while Michail Antonio was unavailable.
The Guardian reported how: “Strikerless West Ham find new approach thanks to Lingard gamble,” writing how, “Although Lingard is not a striker, his nimble movement in an advanced role helped West Ham overcome Antonio’s absence during their 3-0 win over Sheffield United.”
Lingard had 61 touches during this game as makeshift striker and registered four of five shots on target, and winning a penalty.
Manchester United are not ‘strikerless’ – but if United wish to give Ronaldo a break when Cavani is still sidelined, this is one way to do it.
United do have options, it just requires an open-minded approach from interim boss Ralf Rangnick, and there is a chance he explores it at some stage.
A more fluid front three of Jadon Sancho, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Elanga may be enough to unlock some teams; and if the lack of goals persist, United may have to try.
During his time at West Ham in just half a season, Lingard scored nine goals and provided four assists.
United failed to build on that this season and he is back at square one, destined to leave on a free transfer this summer.
Yet Lingard may still have a part to play. United kept him in January to provide squad depth, and with United requiring a little help up front, he should be knocking on Rangnick’s door and reminding him what he is capable of in this role to assist on a short-term basis.
Dan is still wondering what would have happened if United had kept Juan Veron…