Anthony Martial went into the break with four goals in his last five starts.
It would have been great to see him hit the ground running upon his return, but it didn’t quite happen for him.
Martial struggled to make an impact against Tottenham, and it was a combination of poor service initially, and his own limitations.
United failed to offer him much at all in the first half, and he touched the ball just nine times in the opening 45 minutes.
There were moments where he dropped deep to try and get involved, and then United missed his presence up top.
In the second half he was given better service, with United clicking into gear once Paul Pogba came off the bench.
It was Like Shaw who set Martial up for his big chance, and he struck it well, towards the top corner, but not far enough away from Hugo Lloris, who tipped it over the bar.
This was Martial’s one and only opportunity, and as a Manchester United striker, it was one we expected him to take.
United have options now
United are not just dependent on Martial up front. Odion Ighalo is available and raring to go, while Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford can both play centrally too if asked.
Ighalo’s hold-up play is strong and he has done well when he has started matches for United so far, also netting four times since arriving on loan on deadline day.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to manage his squad sensibly, and Ighalo may get a chance to show what he can do on Wednesday night.
Rotation is going to be key, and Martial may find playing against Norwich City next Saturday more enjoyable than against a more physically robust Sheffield United defence.
It was the strength of Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez which Jose Mourinho used to try and unsettle Martial, rather than veterans Vertonghen and Alderweireld.
What at first seemed like a surprising decision may have been a shrewd one, from a manager who knows Martial’s limitations well.
If Martial does start against Sheffield United, he will have to be prepared to mix it, and he will need to do better. The team owe him better service too, and the blame for his underwhelming performance should be 50/50.
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