Anthony Martial is under fire among fans after a poor performance against City at The Etihad.
It was more than just that game. Two goals against Norwich and Tranmere represent a poor return in seven matches in 2020 from a player trying to establish himself as United’s number nine.
Heading into deadline day, United are chasing a new striker. Martial clearly needs help.
This does not mean Martial should be thrown in the bin. He’s a big talent, who needs to work on his game.
The pressure just needs to be alleviated, and there has to be patience. That can happen, if another striker can come in and take the pressure off.
There are two very big reasons why it is still too early to judge Martial.
There are many strikers in world football who would struggle for this United team. There is just no service.
United do not have effective wingers, nor until now, a quality attacking midfielder.
Bruno Fernandes can change how United play, and when Paul Pogba returns, this team will start to click.
Judge Martial when there is a proper team built around him, and he is not relying on Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard.
It is easy to forget at the start of the season Marcus Rashford struggled without Martial too. Really badly. Only when the pair linked up did they start to click again.
This United team is still being built, and with proper service from a top level midfield, Martial can score the goals United need him to.
Wasted three years
When Martial signed for United he was an ice cool killer in front of goal. Give him a chance, and he would bury it without hesitation.
Now that confidence has been lost, and he snatches at chances, like the one at Anfield which he blazed over the bar.
Where would Martial be now in his development if he had not been cast aside for Zlatan Ibrahimovic by Jose Mourinho and then Romelu Lukaku?
Martial is now paying for three wasted years which could have been used playing as a striker.
Did United expect him to just slot straight in and perform at an elite level?
Ideally that would have happened, but we are getting a dose of reality. If a player is not allowed to develop in a position, then he will go backwards.
This is what has happened, and Martial is now learning and developing on the job.
He has a lot to improve on. He has to work harder, put his body on the line, improve his heading, and be more ruthless.
This season will do him good, United’s coaching staff and the fans should not give up on him.
Next season the fruits of his labour this year could pay off, and it may start to click.
It might sound like faith and blind hope, but Martial deserves two consecutive seasons in his favoured position, not a few months interrupted by injury, spent with a poor attacking group around him.
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