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Does Anthony Martial have the mental resilience to succeed at Manchester United?

Anthony Martial, Manchester United’s 23-year-old forward will be looking to make his mark on Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s new-look squad. Focused on speed and transition in attack, Martial seems like a perfect fit for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Although, despite exploding onto the scene with a memorial goal against fierce rivals Liverpool, Martial has failed to kick on to show fans the level required for a United forward.

It must be asked, does he have the mentality to succeed at United? In the early parts of the 2016/17 season under Jose Mourinho, Martial was interchanged with Marcus Rashford at key periods of the game. For the first few games of the season, it has seemed as if though the rotation was working, with both wide men looking to stake a claim for a starting position.

However, following the announcements of the French National team and Martial’s subsequent dismissal, his performances significantly dropped. It is understandable that a player will feel disappointed in not getting his call up to International level, but surely this could be used as motivation to perform well and get into the next squad. Mourinho is often critiqued for how he treats young players.

However, Luke Shaw is a strong example of why the harsh treatment may help develop some sort of mental resilience, with his performances improving as the season progressed. Unfortunately, Martial did not respond in the same manner and found himself lost in the abyss.

The summer of 2018 saw Martial failing to reach the squad for the eventual winners of the world cup. Impounding more issues on Martial, during pre-season Mourinho called out Martial for taking a prolonged break due to the birth of his second child. His failure to reach the squad and continued call-outs by his club manager saw Martial at a crossroad in his United career.

Come the 2018/2019 season, Martial performed well, seemingly with a point to prove scoring nine goals scored across all competitions (September-December). This level of performance saw Martial called up to the French squad, with Didier Deschamps hailing the strikers maturity. However, continued talk of unrest with club manager Mourinho saw Martial’s days at the club numbered.

In December, Mourinho was sacked by the club, following a dismal showing against Liverpool. Martial almost immediately responded by signing a new contract in January and thanking caretaker boss Solskjaer for his ‘belief’. Clearly, the relationship with Mourinho had its impact. Despite the managerial change, Martial failed to regain his early-season form in 2018/19 scoring just three goals across all competitions for the remainder of the season.

Perhaps a hangover from the Mourinho regime. Martial has a lot to prove before the United faithful can truly call him a worthy wearer of the number 11, although, on Friday, it was confirmed that Martial has been reunited with the number nine shirt in which he had his best season at the club. Nobody is denying the talent of Anthony Martial. Although, his seeming ability to produce hot/cold streaks are not good enough to be a consistent feature in this new United squad.

The early season will be pivotal in shaping Martial’s future. Whilst he is bound to get more game time under Solskjaer and pre-season looking promising, his inclusion in the French squad in the first international break will most likely shape how he performs for the rest of the season. With UEFA Euro 2020 fast approaching, Martial must remain consistent throughout the season and if he is dismissed in the first squad it must be used as motivation to kick on and stake his claim.

Written by Adam Bermingham

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