Even the staunchest supporters of Anthony Martial admitted it was a poor display in Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Wolves. It’s been a difficult season for the Frenchman and the last month has been really testing.

Martial’s first season set expectations high and recent performances haven’t met the objectives fans and coaches would have liked. This was supposed to be a breakthrough year.

Here is a look at three reasons why Martial is struggling to get his name on the scoresheet…

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Anthony Martial of Manchester United holds off a challenge from Conor Coady of Wolverhampton Wanderers during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on February 01, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Rashford’s absence is being felt

Without the combined threat of Rashford and Martial, it’s far easier to mark the latter out of the game. The same is true when Rashford plays by himself, though with the confidence picked up this season by the Wythenshawe-born striker it’s less notable.


Martial was effectively marked by three centre-backs against Wolves. It’s a hard ask for a forward who’s never thrived in tight spaces.

He was fouled pretty regularly and the more the game went on, the more frustrating his lack of involvement became.

Lack of variety in United attacking plays

The lack of threat from elsewhere on the pitch exaggerated the Wolves defence’s focus on Martial. United’s team has no other goalscorers. Dan James appears worn out and the full-backs, though improving, offer so little in attack compared to some of their Premier League counterparts. The wingers, without Rashford, aren’t threatening and the midfielders are distinctly ‘fine’.

Bruno Fernandes may change this but United’s reliance on Martial, Rashford and sometimes Greenwood for goals means when one plays alone, the focus is on them.

Defences aren’t dragged apart by a team utterly non-dynamic in its approach. This comes down to recruitment and coaching.

Even if some would argue he’s had enough opportunities already, United have to be better coached to give Martial a chance to flourish. He’s far from blameless but a consistent gameplan and some identifiable attacking patterns of play would help.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Daniel James of Manchester United reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Burnley FC at Old Trafford on January 22, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. Anthony Martial.
(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

When Martial did drop deep to get involved, there were no willing runners in United’s side. He was left with little option but to pass it back into midfield.

In a game like this, where it’s easy to become frustrated, Martial needed wingers or full-backs running past him to give options. That rarely happened.

Is there just not enough to Martial’s game?

The 24-year-old is a good finisher, an exciting dribbler and has a good header on him. But in games against deep defences where there is little chance to dribble, he offers little.

He has scant physical presence and isn’t great in the air. His movement can be excellent but it can also be predictable or non-existent. There were so few runs in the channels against Wolves.

Simultaneously, Martial is not a poacher who will stay in the box and wait for the opportunity. Solskjaer is working on this with him, but some things are instinctive and not so easily taught.

Have something to tell us about this article?