Anthony Martial: A Tale of Two Players

Can the mercurial Frenchman be Jose's saviour?

Posted by Jay Mottershead
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It’s indicative of current state of affairs at United that a player who only weeks ago was deemed surplus to requirements in the eyes of many, is now viewed by most as the saviour of the club’s season.

Anthony Martial’s recent goalscoring exploits have catapulted him into forefront of a lot of fans’ minds when it comes to how the team can get out of this near ‘disastrous start to the season’ mess they find themselves in. Four goals in seven Premier League matches, including well taken strikes in the recent wins over Newcastle and Everton mean the Martial FC mob have an abundance of new members.

But is Anthony Martial simply an inconsistent player enjoying a good run of form in a mediocre team, or is he a shining star Jose Mourinho should build his team around in the hope his glow will light up those around him?

In the current climate it’s easy to get carried away with any half decent performance and escalate it above the praise it truly deserves, United fans have been that bereft of quality this campaign that even a throw-in is in danger of earning a standing ovation.

Some would argue with justification that Martial could walk into any United side, even ones from the ages.

A recent RedArmyBet poll found that the vast majority of fans believe the French winger is good enough to make even one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams – a heady compliment indeed and one that shows the former Monaco man has won over a lot of his detractors.

For some though the doubts still remain, Martial continues to divide opinion in a manner that would make Brexit blush with Gary Neville recently noting on Monday Night Football:

“The difference between him [Martial] scoring 10 to 12 goals a season and 20 is that movement off the ball. He very rarely does it off the ball. He very rarely makes that hurt run that really damages a team. It’s a tough run to make and you don’t always get it. He doesn’t quite know when to run or where to run. He doesn’t quite understand the game.

“What I started to do was look a bit deeper into the stats of Martial and I got the shock of my like. When you look at the stats equivalent to a full season of Martial he’s actually matching the likes of Sadio Mane and Eden Hazard in terms of minutes played, goals and assists, and that’s incredible.

“Then you say to yourself what am I watching? It confuses me even more because they are incredible stats.”

A lot of Reds will share Neville’s confusion over Martial, as while currently the player is enjoying something of a purple patch, he’s not always been the bastion of reliability he is of late. Last season Martial managed nine league goals in 30 appearances, hardly earth shattering, undroppable form.

After a difficult start, this campaign has seen the Frenchman looking more like the player from his first season with the Reds who tore teams apart and lifted the crowd almost every time he got the ball.

As the poll and even Gary Neville suggest, Martial isn’t the perfect answer for United’s attacking woes, but he’s certainly the right one.

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