Football

Anthony Martial needs guidance and protection to fulfill his potential

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The boy - as Sir Alex Ferguson referred to a player under his tutelage - is yet to kick a competitive ball as a Manchester United player, but that hasn't stopped pundits, media and fans from predicting a doom-and-gloom career for Anthony Martial.

The 19-year-old faces scrutiny of the highest level when he eventually makes his bow in the Premier League given his mind-blowing £36 million transfer to the Red Devils.

The fact of the matter is that United have paid excessively for a player that two weeks ago very few knew about. He joined Monaco in 2013, for whom he made 49 appearances and scored 11 goals, with his performance against Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League last season perhaps the best chance any fan has had to watch the youngster play.

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Fast, able with both feet and a good finisher, Martial has the potential to become the next biggest star, but such huge investment has raised questions from a variety of pundits and ex-players.

Former Arsenal player Ray Parlour told Sky Sports: "I look forward to seeing him play, but I think it's going to be a miss, because the money they've spent is an unbelievable amount. For a 19-year-old kid, he is not proven."

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Another Arsenal legend, in the form of Thierry Henry, has also questioned the signing.

"It is a weird one for me, we’re from the same town in France so I knew about him way before he went to Lyon and then Monaco.

"He has pace but can he score a lot of goals - I actually don’t know because he has only played 52 [senior] games. There are a lot of boxes you still have to tick with him because he has played so few games.

"So it is a massive gamble but you have to do that these days, especially in the situation Manchester United are in."

If ever proof was needed that the fee paid for Martial was an incredible gamble, Louis van Gaal has himself admitted that the astronomical fee was "a ridiculous amount of money", according to the Daily Mail

He did, though, go on to emphasise the point that Martial was bought for Ryan Giggs, whom he has sounded out as his ideal successor, and that he fully expects the youngster to take time to adapt.

The dearth of positivity heading Martial's way is something that the player is unlikely to take notice of, though it remains imperative that Van Gaal, alongside the senior players at the club, takes the Frenchman under his wing.

Introducing yourself as a Manchester United players is a daunting enough thought for those with experience at the highest level, let alone for a 19-year-old with such little playing time under his belt.

But this isn't unfamiliar territory for United. Skipper Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo both arrived in Manchester brimming with talent and expectation on their shoulders and needed shielding from the spotlight to prevent against any hindrance in growth.

And it worked. Rooney has since established himself as one of the Premier League's best strikers, whilst Ronaldo has gone above and beyond to claim the Ballon d'Or and become Real Madrid's leading man.

When the pair arrived at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson used all his knowledge and power to guide them to reach their heights. They were given time to develop and never rushed to deliver. Senior players such as Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs were also there to protect them during their first seasons.

The same treatment, therefore, should be applied to Martial - the guidance and protection that he receives will prove pivotal in whether he can reach his potential and prove his many critics wrong.

Very few will anticipate Martial being an instant hit at United, of course, but with a potential debut in the offing against Liverpool this weekend, even a few glimpses of brilliance might be enough to at least quieten those adamant that he will flop, with the way in which Van Gaal handles his young star all-too-important to his future.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United

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