A big week is ahead as Manchester United look to find form against two of the best teams in the league.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under pressure from fans and the media after the team’s latest poor performance, this time a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.
It is a huge week too for Anthony Martial, who is under real pressure whether Solskjaer stays or goes.
The goals have begun to dry up for the Frenchman. He had hoped for a glut of them since returning from injury and netting against Norwich.
He has not scored since in the Premier League, with the Villa match being his fourth consecutive game in the top flight without a goal.
The ‘what about Martial’ argument
United have been linked with signing a number of strikers in January and next summer.
Erling Haaland is the big name, but when Martial was scoring, there was some resistance from some fans who asked, ‘what about Martial?’.
If Martial was playing well, consistently, there would be some legitimacy to asking whether there would be a detrimental effect by signing a striker who would expect to be first choice.
Martial’s recent struggle for goals highlights that United need a top level striker, regardless of what the Frenchman is doing.
There are still questions over whether Martial is cut out to be a clinical centre-forward, whether he has the movement, or the instincts, to be the sort of poacher United require to score 20-30 goals a season.
Big week ahead
Struggles against Sheffield United and Aston Villa can be washed away if Martial scores against Tottenham and Manchester City.
He does not have a good record against either side, scoring twice in a combined 10 games against both teams, even if one of these was a winner against Tottenham back in 2017.
Martial can have a big say over his own future if he shows he can be the striker United need in the upcoming games.
He maybe able to do enough to influence United’s transfer policy in January, and save Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job.
Solskjaer has given Martial his trust, the Frenchman needs to show it was well placed.
If the worst case scenario for Solskjaer happens and he is sacked and replaced, Martial’s future will be affected too.
Solskjaer may have decided already he needs a new striker in January. He really should have done, but the decision could be taken out of his hands.
If it is, then it is even more likely that a new manager will want to add new competition up front.
Martial has a loyal base of fans who will support him no matter what. Others are losing faith in him.
Those doubts will grow if he cannot produce in United’s two big games this week. Calls to get Haaland in will grow louder.
Solskjaer is giving Martial the chance up front he has craved. If he wants this to continue, he better score the goals to save his manager, and himself.
In the short term, he could find himself replaced by Mason Greenwood.
This is a big week for United. For Martial more than most is at stake.
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