Sunday 6 December 2015

United's lack of firepower exaggerating Martial's slump

He might only be three months into his  United career but Anthony Martial must be feeling as though he has already experienced the full range of emotions since arriving at Old Trafford.

Four goals in his first four games- including one of the best debut strikes ever seen (against Liverpool)- made him an instant hero at United- but he has not scored in the league since then and his goal drought has now stretched to over 600 minutes. 

His current form has even seen him become the latest subject of Paul Scholes ire as the formerly shy midfielder has turned into one of English football's most vocal mouthpieces, and his claim that Martial "doesn't look bothered" has brought the 20-year-old into a different kind of spotlight.

There can be no doubting that he has not been as sharp in recent weeks- he had two good chances against West Ham that he would have buried earlier in the season and there was a moment, for me, that encapsulated the young striker's current struggles.

He received the ball on the edge of the area and cut inside, but instead of taking the ball early and driving across goal, he took an extra touch and found Marouane Fellaini and the chance had gone.
True, he is still contributing to the team's attacks during matches but he seems to be lacking in confidence and United's rigid style is not helping him. 

The striker is often the only one in the four-man attack making runs to stretch the opposition's defence but, with playmakers Juan Mata and Ander Herrera out of form and injured respectively, circumstances are not helping his and the team's cause.

The rigid style and often being shunted out to the left wing have not worked in his favour either. 

It was always going to be tough for Martial to come and perform consistently from the off- he's a young player in a new league and new environment at the biggest club in the world, something that Louis van Gaal alluded to in September.

"He is still 19 years old, he has to adapt to a new culture and has to adapt to the Premier League, you cannot expect a player of his age to have consistency.
"He will have ups and downs, this is normal" LVG said at the time. 

United's lack of attacking options- underpinned by the slump of Wayne Rooney, has simply highlighted the Frenchman's difficulties more than otherwise might have been the case.

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