Anthony Martial was one of the top contenders for Manchester United’s 2019/20 player of the season award, before Bruno Fernandes ultimately won it.

His tally of 23 goals justified Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to sell Romelu Lukaku. This season, he has only seven.

Across the last 18 matches, Martial has only netted in one of them. This came when he netted a brace in the 9-0 win over a wretched Southampton.

So what is going wrong for the Frenchman, and can he put it right? Here is a look at five reasons for his step back.

Manchester United v Watford - FA Cup Third Round
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Too much pressure

Martial did not end last season in great form. He missed key chances in the defeat to Sevilla, scoring in just one of his last five games to end the campaign.

He began this season in worse form, failing to score a Premier League goal until December.

There was not much of a break for Martial in the summer, and tiredness, physically and mentally are likely factors.

Leading the line for Manchester United is relentless. The demands never drop. Martial has always been a patchy player, and the pressure to maintain his form just seemed too much for him at the start of the season, and still now.

Some players, like the great Ruud van Nistelrooy, took scoring goals in their stride, week after week. Martial has wilted under the pressure.

Can’t handle competition

Martial’s poor form prompted United to have to go out and add another striker to the ranks, with Edinson Cavani.

Cavani has impressed with his movement, really outshining Martial in an area the Frenchman often lacks effort and know-how.

Some players thrive on competition. Look at the way Luke Shaw has responded to Alex Telles coming in at left-back.

Instead of raising his game, Martial has simply stagnated, missing big chances, and scoring irregularly.

Even with Cavani’s ongoing injury issues, Martial has been unable to seize the striker spot as his own.

 

Not getting enough service

It is totally fair to defend Martial here and point out that Martial often has to feed on scraps when it comes to service.

United do not have quality wingers capable of beating a man and putting a cross in, and are too reliant on Bruno Fernandes.

With that said, Martial does not help himself at times. His movement inside the box is extremely poor, and makes him easy to defend against.

This limits the options for his teammates looking to try and pick him out with a pass.

Coaching

Last season Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was hailed for helping Martial kick on and start to fulfil his potential.

So you have to be even-handed with praise and criticism and say the coaching staff must take some responsibility for Martial’s backwards step.

Why has he lost his composure in front of goal? Why can’t they motivate him to put a consistent effort in for 90 minutes in back to back games? Are the tactics and build-up play not working to Martial’s strengths?

There is obviously only so much the coaching staff can do, but having seen how good he was last season, this is such a dramatic backwards step that the responsibility for Martial’s failure has to be shared.

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(Photo by PETER CZIBORRA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Not cut out for it

It might simply be the case that Anthony Martial just is not cut out to be a top level Premier League striker.

Martial netted 17 Premier League goals last season, a career best. But Josh King once scored 16 in the top flight for Bournemouth, and regressed to type. Is that what is happening with Martial?

There were concerns even before last season that Martial was not a true centre-forward.

These worries are now ringing true, especially when you look at what Erling Haaland is doing at Dortmund.

Haaland may be a rare talent, who United may struggle to sign, but that doesn’t mean United should just settle for Martial, when it is quite obvious that better players could improve this team.

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