It has been a difficult season for Manchester United’s Anthony Martial.
Despite starting the campaign as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s preferred option up front, the France international has scored just twice in the Premier League.
There was an uplift in form in mid-December when he registered two goal involvements in three consecutive games, including the Carabao Cup win over Everton, but since then Martial has found the net just once.
And the 25-year-old struggled to impact on Wednesday evening as United suffered perhaps the biggest upset of the Premier League so far in the form of a shock home defeat to rock-bottom Sheffield United.
Of course, that certainly doesn’t condone the vile racial abuse Martial received on social media after the match, but it was a poor performance amid a disappointing campaign from the forward – who reportedly takes home £250k per-week at Old Trafford.
Accordingly, Martial was a subject of debate in The Athletic’s match discussion thread, with journalist Carl Anka outlining three clear issues he sees in Martial’s game right now.
He said: “Martial’s usual skill of finishing has fallen. His movement is off sync with the team. And refs seem to have caught onto the sneaky good way he falls, so he can’t bail himself out by winning a foul after running down a corridor.”
GIVEMESPORT’s Christy Malyan says…
Is Martial truly a Manchester United calibre player – by which I mean, does he have both the talent and the personality to fire them to domestic and European titles?
That may seem a little harsh considering the Frenchman bagged 17 goals and six assists in the Premier League last season, but let’s not forget that his debut Old Trafford campaign brought 15 goal involvements after arriving from Monaco.
So how much has he really improved from that point? Last season was the first in which he outscored the return of eleven goals from his first Premier League term, and now that looks like a mere flash in the pan – especially as 13 of his total 17 came in the final 19 games of the campaign.
Similarly, I don’t think anybody is truly any the wiser as to whether he’s best playing as a left forward or a central striker. He doesn’t seem to have particularly improved on any of the skills required for either role and still ultimately relies on his greatest quality, which remains his composure in front of goal.
Now 25, Martial has at best only improved at the rate of his natural development and United need to ask if that alone is good enough for a club with their ambitions, who face the challenge of toppling both Liverpool and Manchester City.
There’s no doubting Martial’s natural pedigree, but it’s a failure to take his game a step further that’s holding him back. Right now, he’s arguably regressing.