Anthony Martial – Misunderstood?

On the 25th August 2019, Anthony Martial was injured for Manchester United, leaving Marcus Rashford as the club’s sole ‘experienced’ forward. For the following 2 months and 7 games, Marcus registered 1 goal against Leicester (a penalty), and 1 assist against Arsenal. In this period, some of the fans began to turn on him as he was struggling for production. On the 20th October, Anthony Martial returned to the line-up and very quickly, the pair began to produce. Marcus went from 2 goal involvements in 7 games without Toto, to his first 7 games back with him where our number 10 was involved in 7 goals or assists, plus he received 2 MOTM awards. Anthony Martial in his first 7 games back, registered 3 goals, 2 assists and 1 MOTM award. It is obvious that both players perform better alongside the other; Martial playing as a false 9, dropping deeper and demanding the ball to feet benefits greatly from runners around him that surge ahead whilst he drops deep, exactly what Marcus is brilliant at. Then, on 15th January 2020, Marcus Rashford suffered a double stress fracture in his lower back. In the 5 games since this injury, Martial has registered 1 goal and 1 assist, both in the 6-0 win over Tranmere Rovers. Again, as with Rashford, some sections of the fanbase are beginning to turn on our Frenchman, showing vitriol and impatience with the forward. What is more of an issue, is the lack of squad depth, which means if one of the 2 forwards are injured, the other struggles as there is no one to fill their strike partners void. Fans point to the Liverpool loss and Martial’s miss and claim he isn’t good enough for the club, as seen with Roy Keane. The reality is Martial had to fashion that chance himself, due to the lack of creativity in the team, something that will hopefully improve with Fernandes recently joining and Pogba returning soon; our number 9 won’t be relied on to create his own chances with Rashford out. Also, the claim he isn’t a good enough finisher is a poor one, with Martial finishing the last 2 PL seasons as the forward with the highest shot conversion rate in the league. So far this season, Martial is averaging 0.47 non penalty goals per 90, Rashford is currently at 0.49 non penalty goals per 90; nearly no difference between them. All in all, Anthony Martial is a fantastic striker, who suits our style of play very well, he just needs the patience from the fans he has earned, just as Rashford needed it earlier this season to turn his form around.

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