It has been a frustrating season for Anthony Martial so far. He hasn’t started as much as he would have liked and surely hasn’t done what fans have expected from his during this season. The player has been struggling and an in-form Zlatan Ibrahimovic is first choice ahead of him and this surely hasn’t been pleasant for the French.
Differently from the likes of Memphis, Martial seems to have taken the decision of not being chosen well, accepting that there are some certain issues he needs to work on, looking to become a better player under Jose Mourinho. He has had some good games this season but that haven’t been good enough to make him first choice in the left or as a number nine. The 21-year-old French International was the bright spark at Manchester United last season, being incredibly impressive, leading United’s attack and being the saviour in hard times. Everything around Martial has been special, from his dream debut to his late minute goal against Everton that sent Manchester United in the FA Cup final. Considered by Louis van Gaal as a signing for the future, expectations remain high on Anthony Martial.
This being said, he will always be under pressure but it seems that many of us forget that he is just 21 and has a lot to learn, in and outside the football pitch. We all are aware that no player likes to be benched and the frustration grows when fans remember how good he is and the way he played last season. That’s the reason why Jose Mourinho has received critics for benching him and not treating his case well, losing a player that is a game changer and considering the fact that United has suffered on scoring may have led some think that Mourinho isn’t acting in the right way.
That’s exactly what the media said about Mkhitaryan as well, saying that Jose isn’t doing the right thing by not giving him the chance to express himself despite the fact that a player like Henrikh was needed. As explained above the same goes for Martial as well but it’s the player himself that is willing to make things change around. Just like Mkhitaryan, Martial doesn’t blame Jose for the lack of minutes this season. The Starting XI is built around the players that have performed in the squad’s training sessions and Martial knows that Jose always picks the best. That’s where it all starts. The manager has always kept an eye on him and knows his potential but has stated that he needs to change certain things and be ready for what it expects him under the tenure of the Portuguese. Naturally, questions will be asked. What does he have to change? What is it stopping him from performing? Is Mourinho actually right in what he is trying to transmit to the player? Will he have the right attitude?
Unlike Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial adapted Van Gaal’s system and philosophy quickly being his main man in the attack. That’s what Mourinho has tried to change at him, the mentality on the football pitch. More than adapting his style, Martial did the job he was being paid for, scoring. Mourinho is looking to integrate him in the team play and is trying to make him more of a team player. When starting or coming in as a substitute Martial has been seen doing defensive work this season, something that he needs to work on and improve, something really important for a Jose Mourinho-type of striker. Just have a look at Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he isn’t just great for his spectacular goals but also for the ways he imposes the opponent. That’s what Jose is trying to work on Martial.
It’s not all about football related issues when it comes to some poor performances he has pulled this season. The environment around a footballer is always important when it comes to the player’s psychology and his ex-wife’s interviews have affected the player as he has reacted through social media for her interviews pointing at her for not telling the truth, how things truly are. This has caused Mourinho to worry that his private life has affected the player’s performance and he has reportedly spent a lot of time talking to Martial trying to get him focused so he can start producing once again. Martial seems calmer and looks happier and some credits should go to Jose for handling the situation really well.
The media has always attacked Mourinho for not starting and promoting youth but he knows the importance of a player that is having issues to perform due to his problems with adoption and private life issues. So far, so good. Jose has remained calm when the media has asked about him saying that he needs time and his time will come. The manager is trying to make him a better player by doing what he does best, taking the pressure out of him. Martial may not be starting and all trying to make Jose feel guilty about it, meaning that the player won’t worry about the media’s pressure. Exactly what he did with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, making all of them believe that it’s all on Mourinho. That’s what Jose does best and his tactics seem to work again this time. Phase number two is convincing him that he is good enough to make whatever he wants and destroy the opponent. Remember that Mkhitaryan goal against Zorya Luhansk? That’s the way how Jose created the beast that is called Mkhitaryan and now Jose is willing to unleash Martial in the same way.
In a recent interview with French broadcaster SFR Sport he found the fact that he isn’t starting as incredibly annoying but understands that these are the choices the manager makes:
“It’s annoying to be on the bench, it’s truly annoying, but it’s a test you have to overcome and that’s how you progress. It’s difficult because all you want is to be able to help the team and when you’re on the bench you can’t. But these are choices and you have to accept it.”
Seems and feels like the right attitude for a player that hasn’t started a lot this season and hasn’t scored much, but he wants to change and this is enjoyable for many United fans who want him the Martial of last season back. We all believe that he isn’t just a one-season wonder and the youngster will soon gain his form back. The sparks are there, as that performance against West Ham in the EFL Cup was enchanting. He has been working hard and the first signs are already shown with Mourinho making it clear that he won’t give up on him. It’s pleasant to know that the player has overcome all his struggles and is hungry to score goals.
This comes at the right moment and Jose couldn’t be happier. Van Gaal may have used a lot this word, but everything is a process and Martial is close to finishing his comeback process. After a successful work with Herrera and Mkhitaryan, Jose is ready to unleash a new revival under him and that’s Anthony Martial. Like in other two cases, he is preparing the right environment to introduce him back because that’s the Jose way. So far, these tactics have worked and knowing how talented Martial is, another success is on the way for Mourinho and deservedly.