The world is working against Anthony Martial right now. At least that is how he will feel.
Martial fought back into France’s international squad after a two year absence. Then against Kazakhstan in a World Cup qualifier he suffered a knee injury in the same game he provided an assist. It was terrible luck.
The injury has kept Martial out of the Manchester United team for the past few weeks, and it has also meant he has been ruled out of the Euros.
This is a real low point for Martial. He is coming off the worst season of his Manchester United career with just seven goals.
Watching him this season has been tough. He looked off his game from the first match back, and never really recovered.
His stock has never been lower, especially with Edinson Cavani coming in and showing what a real world class striker can do.
Martial ends the season as United’s lowest scoring of the four forwards, and has gone backwards.
Now with talk of more strikers potentially coming in, from the overpriced Harry Kane to the more modest Danny Ings [Telegraph], Martial is fighting for his future.
Keep the faith
Amid all of this, it’s important fans don’t give up on him. Martial has been frustrating this season because we know he is capable of better.
Last season he was United’s top goalscorer with 23 goals. He became the first striker to score a hat-trick in seven years for United in the process, and thrived in a central role.
His regression this year was hard to account for. Extra pressure, added competition, and at times a perceive lack of effort were all reasons attributed to his backwards step.
That doesn’t mean the club or fans should totally give up on him. There’s a good player in there, even if he is not the long-term answer as centre-forward.
Martial is better than his seven goal contribution suggests, and could come back firing next season, after a summer of rest.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shown his managerial ability in turning players’ fortunes around. Look at Luke Shaw. He even did it with Martial last season, before the Frenchman regressed. There should be hope he can get Martial back to his best again.
Judge at end of next season
What Martial needs is faith from supporters. There will be impatience, there will be doubts, and Martial needs to prove his critics wrong.
There will also likely be extra competition. United may well sign another striker despite Edinson Cavani’s contract extension. Solskjaer even hinted at it after the midweek game, in comments to Sky Sports which will have been another dagger to Martial.
The Frenchman shouldn’t give up. If supporters see he is putting in the effort, he will win some over. His performance away in the win over City in which he won a penalty and gave Ruben Dias the runaround showed what he can do.
Martial has to rise to extra competition, and show he can be a long term option for United. Cavani’s contract is only for one year, and Martial needs to prove he can be an option who can be relied upon from 2022.
If he can’t then United will be searching for two new strikers in 2022. At the end of next season, it will be fair to judge him.
Many will feel Martial has had enough time, but don’t write him off at his lowest point. Let’s see if he has the character to respond. The club should not alter transfer strategy and rely upon Martial out of hope, but if he finds a way to kick on next season and score 15 goals or more, then it will be an important contribution.
Martial will appreciate the fans sticking by him at this point when he is at his lowest. Who knows, he may be able to swing some favour his way with a late cameo appearance and vital contribution in the Europa League final?
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