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What Would Manchester United Be Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

The big Swede’s influence at United boggles the mind, but he’s also a massive crutch for Jose Mourinho and the club.

It could be argued that this was Jose Mourinho’s masterplan all along against Rostov at Old Trafford, to sit back, control possession against an ultra-defensive setup and just let Zlatan Ibrahimovic do his thing.

It worked, and no one will remember this game tomorrow. Manchester United are through to the quarterfinals of the Europa League thanks to a beautiful assist from Ibrahimovic. United required a phenomenal save from Sergio Romero at the death to avoid extra time, and everything else made you want to be crushed by the skull of Marouane Fellaini. 

Paul Pogba went down with a hamstring strain, Fellaini and Phil Jones entered the match to the delight of trees and spastics everywhere and Jose Mourinho refused to use Marcus Rashford in a game that desperately needed him.

Manchester United appear to be mired in Jose Mourinho’s own vindictive prophecies regarding match-induced lethargy and his brutally heavy approach to every game.

What is Manchester United? They appear to be nothing more than a dreary machine, crunching data, recognizing different patterns of approach play and spitting out their own counterfeit version of attacking football, Jose Mourinho’s own version of Frankenstein’s monster, a revolting “blot upon the earth from which all men fled and whom all men disowned”.

Laboriously stuck in sixth place in the Premier League for months and wholly reliant on the powers of the 35-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic, where would Mourinho be without his talismanic striker?

Ibrahimovic has become an imperative crutch for Mourinho, his goals tantamount to defeating Southampton, West Brom and Sunderland, but when he’s held off the scoresheet, they draw to Stoke, Hull City and Bournemouth.

Zlatan has 15 Premier League goals. Anthony Martial, Rashford and Wayne Rooney have combined for 8. An Ibrahimovic-less seems almost inconceivable now because we can’t even remember what Marcus Rashford looks like.

Next up for United is a trip to the Riverside to play Middlesbrough. I would rather have my legs broken by a head-first Phil Jones tackle.