Manchester United are reeling from the unhappy news Anthony Martial has picked up a hamstring injury and will miss the first game of the season.
The Athletic report Martial won’t be available, shining a spotlight on the shambles which is United’s forward options, after years of neglect and short-term fixes.
Erik ten Hag’s focus will be on how his team line up this coming weekend. He does have a few options, although none of them are ideal.
Here is a look at six ways Manchester United could replace Anthony Martial against Brighton. Reminder, we wouldn’t get too excited about the options…
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Six ways Manchester United could replace Anthony Martial v Brighton
Cristiano Ronaldo: If Cristiano Ronaldo was fully committed and fully fit, and went on tour with United, he probably would have been leading the line for Manchester United anyway. Unfortunately none of the above are true.
Ronaldo’s commitment is questionable, and he has played only 45 minutes of football in pre-season, with a largely second choice side.
Opinion of Ronaldo will swing wildly based on the result if he starts. Score and win, and all is right with the world. If United fail to win, Ronaldo will face the blame. UItimately, he is that good, its probably worth the gamble. He did score 24 goals last season after all, and should have a real point to prove towards the teams who snubbed him.
Marcus Rashford: Do you remember when Marcus Rashford last scored a competitive goal for Manchester United?
The answer is at home to West Ham in January. Despite that poor record, he is still a credible option. Anthony Elanga or Alejandro Garnacho would take his place on the left.
With doubts over Ronaldo’s fitness, a front three of Elanga, Rashford and Sancho might be United’s most likely option.
Anthony Elanga: Another option is to ask Anthony Elanga to lead the line, with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho either side of him.
This isn’t a particularly attractive option, he has not scored in pre-season and his last goal came in February.
Amad: United brought Amad off the bench against Rayo Vallecano at the weekend and he scored after a few minutes on the pitch.
He led the line once before, as a substitute at home to AC Milan, scoring with an inventive header. It’s far from ideal, but the Ivorian might be an effective option.
Alejandro Garnacho: United could attempt to create a star by giving Alejandro Garnacho his first Premier League start.
The 17-year-old was United’s man of the match against Rayo, and his pace and unpredictability would give his teammates and the Old Trafford crowd a lift. However, he may be preferable as an impact substitute rather than as a starter.
False 9 – Hannibal / Fernandes / Van de Beek
One option is simply not to start a striker at all, and play an attacking midfielder in as a ‘false 9’. There are a trio of players who could perform this role.
Hannibal did so briefly in pre-season, while Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek could also be asked to do so, with Christian Eriksen taking on the normal attacking midfield role.