Manchester United’s dependence on Zlatan Ibrahimovic during his debut season at Old Trafford has embarrassed the club’s other forwards, says Jamie Carragher.
Since signing the enigmatic Swede as a free agent, the Red Devils have relied on their 35-year-old frontman for moments of inspiration.
He has often delivered – with winning efforts in the Community Shield and EFL Cup final among his 26-goal haul – but his performances have put the collective contribution of Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to shame, with no member of that trio yet to reach double figures.
“Zlatan has that personality and presence but I feel it’s a bit embarrassing for those other players that they need a 35-year-old centre-forward,” former England international Carragher told Sky Sports.
“It’s a big worry, the fact these young players go in there and can’t seem to cope, it doesn’t bode well for them and I think that’s Mourinho’s frustration.
“When you play at the top level, if you get a chance you must take it.
Martial and Rashford have netted seven times apiece in all competitions this season, while club captain Rooney has added just five efforts in a campaign which has seen him become United’s all-time leading goalscorer.
With Ibrahimovic yet to commit to an extension to his 12-month deal and speculation suggesting that he could head to MLS with the LA Galaxy this summer, United legend Gary Neville believes Jose Mourinho must addresses the issues within his forward line, with another busy transfer window expected at Old Trafford.
He told Sky Sports: “They need quality, more subtlety and more killer instinct in the final third. The positive is he knows where to improve. He needs players capable of winning matches for him. The ones currently up top are not doing that.
“I think he’s lining it up. You think about the sales of Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay for around £40m.
“There’s talk of Antoine Griezmann and I’m sure other clubs will be after him as well, but Jose must be lining up for another big summer.
“It’s not just the attack because there are some shortcomings in defence too. They need a centre-back, they need a holding midfielder. I think five or six will come in, with two or three going.”