Tuesday 22 May 2018

Anthony Martial's United career at a crossroads

Anthony Martial lit up Old Trafford with a dazzling debut in a stunning campaign at Old Trafford and ended top scorer with 18 goals under Louis van Gaal in 2015-16, the one shining light set against the backdrop of an otherwise dark season.
 He became an instant hero with THAT wonderful solo goal against Liverpool and is the inspiration behind one of our best terrace chants, as he quickly illuminated a dreary United side upon his £50m arrival from Monaco. He had the potential to become one the finest foreign exports United have had for many a year, with all the assets to develop in a future Thierry-Henry esque superstar, at his best a  dazzling bundle of pace and trickery. But Martial has failed to kick on during the two years Jose Mourinho has been at the club (make of that what you will), having endured a torrid 2018 in which he has failed to score since January, opportunities were few and far between and his United career is now seemingly at a crossroads.

Now, the Frenchman - still only 22 - has missed out on a place in his country's World Cup squad after an indifferent season of regression and flux. He started the campaign in a blistering run of form, a run that co-incided with a rejuvenated United's opening surge to the summit of the table in September.
But that lightning start has quickly eroded, with a combination of less game time (Martial started just 18 Premier League ties this term and played the full 90 only five times), a dramatic downturn in form and the New Year arrival of Alexis Sanchez hardly helping his cause. Martial never seems as if he's enjoying himself, he carries the same pained expression and plays like the weight of the world is enveloped on his young shoulders.
The Chilean's arrival has pushed him down the pecking order, he seems to be lacking in confidence and unsure of his main role within this number-ten heavy United identikit. Having scored a paltry 19 goals across the last two campaigns, Martial's influence has declined and he's been forced to the fringes of the first team. He now looks in danger of becoming the latest in a long line of players who have failed to make it at the club despite promising beginnings. It also does little to enhance Jose's already sceptical critics regarding his man management of young talents.

Martial came on for the final 17 minutes of Saturday's cup final against Chelsea - a fleeting, brief cameo that looks set to be his last in the red of United. If that's the case, then it's an inglorious and anti-climatic end to a United career that will be remembered as one in which the player's burgeoning potential ultimately went unfulfilled. The boss has seemingly lost all faith in Martial and - with Jose planning a summer overhaul in both playing squad and backroom staff - our number 11 looks set to become the first casualty of the clearout.

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