Why has Anthony Martial not excelled at Manchester United?
Anthony Martial came to England with a big reputation and has so far yet to live up to fulfil this. While all observers see that the Frenchmen has serious talent and potential, it is yet to be fully realised and he has struggled to nail down a place in the first team line up. With the big January signing of Alexis Sanchez, and Romelu Lukaku being Mourinho's favoured striker, it leaves very little room for Martial. As a result of a stop-start season and being left out of the French national squad, Martial is favouring a move away from the club according to his agent.
"After thinking about all the factors and possibilities, Anthony wants to leave Manchester United." Phillippe Lamboley speaking to RMC Sport.
With potential new clubs closing in on the United player, I shall go through the reasons why Martial has not lit up the Premier League as of yet and what his options may be next if he can manufacture a move away from Old Trafford.
We are not seeing the best of him under Mourinho
Jose Mourinho is undoubtedly one of the most successful managers of our generation, with titles in every country he has managed in, whether that is domestic or continental. 'The Special one' has developed a style of play which he is rather rigid to, knowing it can give him success in any type of match in almost any circumstance. Mourinho likes hard working players who play to a regimented, discipline style of making sure you do not concede before thinking of scoring. Players like Martial do not fall into this category. Martial plays at his best when he can drift from the left inside, splitting the gap between the centre-back and right-back before using his pace and physicality to give himself, or his teammates, a chance at goal. When Mourinho has used Martial, it has been as a left winger, but his natural tendency to cut inside and to not always track back contradicts the managers style. As Jose does not play with two strikers and Lukaku being one of the first names on the United team sheet, it leaves Martial either out on the left, playing out of position and having to track back to help the team, or left on the bench, potentially being used as a super sub.
So it is clear Martial does not fit the Mourinho mould and will struggle to get game time whist competing with Sanchez, Lukaku and Rashford. Mourinho's 4-2-3-1 formation, with Lukaku a constant fixture up top, does not give Martial much chance but in another team, I have no doubt he could be brilliant. Martial benefits from having freedom and drifting in and out of defenders to be at his best. A younger less experienced Martial under Van Gaal looked a more dangerous threat to the oppositions defence than the one we saw last season under Mourinho. While he still did well when he was played, being under a different manager could do the forwards career the world of good.
Martial vs Rashford
If anything is for certain with Manchester United, its that they have always thrived off bringing young players through to the shine in the first team. Giving players this platform has allowed them to realise their maximum potential and go on to be legends for the club, examples being Giggs, Scholes and Beckham from the class of 92'. However, Manchester United now have the nice problem of having two young wonderkids with bright futures ahead of them, competing for the same position in an already very talented team. They are also very similar in their style of play, both are quick technically able forwards with a strong physical presence. While Rashford has a better overall work rate, Martial is more clinical in front of goal. While they both prefer to play in a striker role, they are otherwise best used in a left-wing role.
Martial is losing this battle. Rashford, being a local boy brought up through the youth team and academy, qualifies under the Homegrown player rule, which Martial does not. In addition, the tradition bias of English player over foreign has resulted in most fans favouring Rashford over Martial, especially as Rashford is a year younger than his French teammate.
It is a shame that these two players have been unable to work together on the pitch under Mourinho as they could have formed a devastating partnership. Hopefully if Martial gets a move away, it will allow both players to get more consistent first team football, where they can both show what they are truly capable of.
What are the options for Martial?
Anthony Martial stands at a crossroads in his career, to stay and Manchester United, or to move on to a new club. Leaving a club the size of Manchester United is not easy but for Martial to reach his full potential I think it is necessary for him to find a new club. A player of his quality should not be starting on the bench in major games and used as a 'super sub', it is quite frankly a waste of talent.
Martial will have several clubs of Champions League quality looking to get his signature, with Real Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus and Spurs all having shown interest in the 22-year-old. In my opinion, Martial is a star in the waiting. Great physically, good technically and with quality in front of goal, Martial could be one of the best forward for the next 10 years if he can realise his potential. Teams will be prepared to spend big money to bring in a young, exciting talent like Martial and whereas the dream move to Manchester United has not been an entire success, his next transfer could push his career up to the next level.