The Impalpable Dream of Anthony Martial

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial is an enigma of a footballer. When he is in full flow, he is as deadly as a viper but when everything is against him, he becomes as timid as a hedgehog. That has been the rollercoaster Anthony Martial has been on since arriving in England. His explosion on to the scene with the winner against Liverpool was followed by droughts in his goal-scoring where he failed to score more than ten goals.

The Anthony Martial Rollercoaster

Manchester United Stuck on Martial Rollercoaster

After showing glimpses of his wanderlust after Project Restart, which saw him have his best goal-scoring season in a red shirt, he has become resigned to complete dust once again.

His failure to sustain consistency during his time at Old Trafford under different managers has led to the disbelief of how the French international continues to have the complete trust of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It was well-documented how much the Norweigian manager wanted to sign compatriot Erling Haaland, who eventually moved to Borussia Dortmund but was taken aback by the form of Martial and compromised. But with the good form of Edinson Cavani at 34-years of age showing how to be a striker in this day and age, is it time Manchester United look beyond Martial?

Anthony Martial is into his sixth year at the club but has failed to nail down the number nine position as his own and his recent form further indicates he is unable to fulfil that role.

In 19 games this season, the 25-year-old striker has managed four goals, the same as Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton Wanderers, who has been injured since late November. The striker suffered a fractured skull in the win over Arsenal and underwent surgery to repair the damage.

United have created more chances this season and has led to the striker having 39 attempts on goal but his ability to not put his chances away is a big concern. Out of those, he has missed eight big chances in the league already and does not include the chance against Paris Saint-Germain which could have led to the Old Trafford side staying in the UEFA Champions League.

It’s Now or Never for Anthony Martial

Manchester United dropped more points against relegation-battlers West Bromwich Albion as they failed to reduce the gap on runaway leaders Manchester City. Their noisy neighbours lead by seven points and have a game in hand. The 25-year-old striker was anonymous for large periods of the game before he was substituted. Playing off the left-flank he was unable to mobilise himself and create any chances. His movement off the ball has been highlighted consistently more since the signing of Cavani.

It was always rumoured Martial had felt betrayed during Jose Mourinho’s tenure as the manager handed his number nine shirt to Zlatan Ibrahimović at the time without his consultation. His private affairs also didn’t help in his downward spiral but with his excellent partnership with Marcus Rashford last season where both strikers managed to tally 20 plus goals each, it seemed his prime years had finally come to fruition.

Off the Pace

His brace in the 9-0 rout of nine-men Southampton seems like a one-off performance after his goals per match have dropped to 0.21 per match which was at 0.53 last season. His lethargy is becoming more ever-present in each performance as his take-ons have plummeted further. It has lead to Marcus Rashford being utilised out of position, a player Martial is alike but unable to command the same energy.

The striker is known for winning penalties but even defenders have anticipated him easier. Conjoined with the fact he is making less attacking runs when in the box is a testament to his low confidence. It was to see in plain sight against the Baggies, his failure to take a gamble at the back post may have resulted in United dropping points despite an underwhelming overall display from the team. It is apparent Uruguayan striker Cavani is known for making front post runs but his anticipation to make runs has stooped to a point where the ground to gobble him up and you wouldn’t notice.

Comments from Jurgen Klopp haven’t made things easier as calls from club captain Harry Maguire alluded to the fact that the referees were against them.

Anthony Martial was dubbed the next Thierry Henry when he arrived back in 2015, but with his sixth year at the club underway, and hard to put a finger on what is going wrong for the forward, the penny may finally be dropping on his future at the club.

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