Anthony Martial is a player we all know has the talent to play for Manchester United, but after a season where he became on of the players of the moment with United, his second season is not on the same scale. Playing under Louis van Gaal during the 2015/16 season, Martial made 49 appearances for United, scoring 17 goals, assisting a further eight. This season, under Jose Mourinho, Martial has made only 32 appearances, scoring seven goals, assisting in a further six. The Frenchman has been the subject of criticism from Mourinho, also suffering problems in his private life, which will, no doubt, be a start to the fact that he’s not been the same player this season. Martial is a player who has shown glimpses of his ability under Mourinho this season but doesn’t seem all that consistent at this moment in time. Like Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Luke Shaw and many others before him, Martial will find the form he requires.
On Thursday evening at Old Trafford, United face Anderlecht in the quarter-final second leg of the UEFA Europa League, carrying a 1-1 draw from the first leg, United will not only need to shut out the Belgian side, United will need to score goals. On Sunday against Chelsea at the Theatre of Dreams, United did the business, scoring twice through Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera, shutting out Chelsea, so it can be done to any team United faces. Martial is a player who is fit, and after being rested against Chelsea could well be given the chance to impress the manager ahead of an important summer. Martial came off the bench in Belgium last week, and despite trying, he failed to impress, so he will need to come up with a performance much like the one against West Ham United in the EFL Cup late last year, with two goals in the 4-1 victory. Mourinho sat with the media on Wednesday afternoon, speaking about Martial, saying:
“Do I think Anthony Martial is player with great potential? Yes. Do I think he can play successfully for me? Yes. But he needs to give me things that I like.
“We are together for almost 10 months or something like that. The same way I know the players much better now, the players should also know me much better now.
“The same way I know what the players like, I think the players also know what I like. The same way I have to go with the direction of the players, the players have to come in my direction.
“That’s the point. That’s why Marcus Rashford, even without scoring goals and not in the Premier League since September, he is always a player that I trust and I play and support because he was always coming in my direction.
“That’s what I want from a Manchester United player. It’s about that. It’s about knowing each other better.”
This season is more of a rehearsal for United, after going through three dreadful seasons, seeing teams come to Old Trafford and take points they would not have necessarily got under Sir Alex Ferguson, records being broken, in a negative sense, and things just not getting any better. Three managers down the line and improvement has been seen. Manchester United are not the team they once were, but glimpses of that team have been seen, which will be for the first time in nearly four years. Martial, Rashford, and Mkhitaryan, among others, are the future of this side. Mkhitaryan has impressed for the majority of the season, after his dismal start, Rashford has been given chances, albeit it playing out of his favourite position to help the team and better himself, not scoring as much, but impressing. Martial’s time is now, he was the shining light of last season, from his debut against Liverpool, right the way through the season, so putting his mind and abilities towards achieving that again, will go a long way to firming his place in Mourinho’s team this season, and for the future.