Manchester United just can’t seem to find some consistent form this season.
As soon as it appears that the Red Devils are on a winning spree, a shock defeat will rear its head and throw them off course again. At the heart of this issue has been the oversized squad at Jose Mourinho’s disposal.
The Special One is only just beginning to realise whom he wants to keep at Old Trafford and who he wants to cut. Moreover, this week may just have seen him reach such a conclusion and it doesn’t bode well for one player in particular.
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Second season syndrome
Anthony Martial has endured a classic case of second season syndrome.
The Frenchman hit the ground running in the Premier League last season and justified his claim as football’s most promising, rising star. After all, 17 goals is an incredible return for a then19-year-old in his debut season.
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The magic of 2015-16 has been distinctly lacking under Mourinho though.
Despite still being fielded a reasonable 12 times by the Portuguese, Martial has only scored once from open play. Furthermore, Jesse Lingard has largely been favoured in the Frenchman’s position as a result.
While the 20-year-old has been far from disastrous, he hasn’t built on his brilliant start as many and Mourinho would have expected him to do. It’s certainly been disappointing for supporters.
Given Mourinho’s reputation for squad ruthlessness though, Martial may need to get his act together and sooner rather than later. Most managers may temper the situation given his age, but not the Special One.
In addition, rumours of Martial being forced out of Old Trafford have only been encouraged by the manager’s most recent comments. It’s certainly a firm warning to the player believed to be United’s next best thing.
As per the Mirror, the 53-year-old explained: “You have one opportunity, you have two, you have three. If you don’t bite, then somebody else comes in and takes the bait. “The players have to win their positions.
"They are friends and colleagues, who work together every day. But, in the end, they compete between themselves to have more chance to play. Also the teams are very different. The way the team played last season was probably better for Anthony.
“He was probably more comfortable playing that way, at that intensity, at that rate of ball possession and ball circulation.
“Probably he also needs some time but in our squad, especially in these positions, we have Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford.
“These are the positions where we have more options.”
Therefore, at best, the comments can be interpreted as a warning that Martial’s place in the starting XI is highly in doubt. Nevertheless, it’s also easy to take the remarks as a hint that the Frenchman may be surplus to requirements.
You certainly wouldn’t put it past the Portuguese to take such a knee jerk reaction to such a brief slump in form. However, if he’s been tasked with ensuring short-term success, then having patience with players is a risky game.
If Mourinho does condone the sale of Martial though, it would likely alienate the majority of supporters. After all, regardless of the Portuguese’s aims, it could see United concede one of the sport’s hottest prospects over just a few disappointing months.
Do you think Jose Mourinho has reason to sell Anthony Martial? Leave them in the comment section below!