“MADCHESTER”, that’s how The Sun described Manchester United after teenage prodigy Anthony Martial was brought to the club for what was a world record fee for a teenager that in reality, nobody had ever heard of. The English press were quick to brand him as a “Waste of Money” and he was instantly foreseen as a result of Manchester United’s failure to secure big names in the transfer market after the likes of Gareth Bale, Neymar Jr and Thomas Müller had all been heavily linked with blockbuster transfers to the Red Devils. Never the less, Martial was red… and not a single person could have predicted what would happen next.
Previous United manager, Louis van Gaal, was quick to play down Martial’s transfer, claiming that he was purchased for the next manager and that it would take him time to fit in to the United mould. The following weekend was the highly anticipated United v Liverpool derby and the Premier League’s newest prospect was all set to make his debut against United’s most bitter rivals. Starting on the bench, Martial was introduced to life at Old Trafford in the 65th minute of the tie. United, led 2-0 when Martial came on but a thunderous strike from Belgian forward Christian Benteke, set up an intriguing final five minutes at the Theatre of Dreams. The clock ticked on, and with United under pressure, Martial found himself picking the ball up on the left-wing, a fast change of pace, skipping through the challenges of three helpless Liverpool defenders and planting the ball in the bottom corner, beating a sprawling Mignolet. Anthony Martial had announced himself.
Without going into too much depth regarding what was overall a fairly disappointing season by any United fans standards, Anthony Martial has begun to answer all of his critics by being arguably United’s most influential outfield player during what proved to be Van Gaal’s final season in charge at Old Trafford. Most often accommodated out on the left-wing, the Frenchman ended the season as United’s leading goal scorer, with a total of 17 goals across all competitions including the winning goal to take the Red Devils to the FA Cup final at Wembley. Despite Martial’s overall impressive performances, the campaign was still viewed as displeasing by many Manchester United fans due to a lack of attacking football and excitement.
The arrival of Jose Mourinho marks the beginning of a new era at Old Trafford and means for what promises to be happier times for countless supporters. With the “Special One” taking over at the Old Trafford helm, it could mean for a significant role to play for Martial within the new manager’s plans. Where ever the Portuguese boss has been, there has been one-star player often among Europe’s elite playing out wide, this list includes the likes of Arjen Robben, Cristiano Ronaldo and most recently Eden Hazard. As a result, Martial could be the next to receive ‘special’ treatment from the ‘special one’ and become the star of this Manchester United team. The Frenchman possesses all the qualities to become a world-class footballer: Electric pace, admirable awareness, and stone cold finishing ability. What better time for Martial to become recognised among the best footballers in Europe, than under the guidance of a proven winner such as Jose Mourinho?
Written by Harry Mills