After being one of Manchester United’s standout prospects last season, Anthony Martial has so far struggled to live up to his own lofty standards. Under Jose Mourinho, the Frenchman has only scored once in eight Premier League appearances – a startling contrast to his 11 goals in 31 games under Louis van Gaal last season. Subsequently, Jose Mourinho has called on Martial to seize his chance, or risk his teammates ‘taking his the meat.’
“The way the team played last season – and I’m not saying better or worse, just different – was probably more adapted to Anthony.
“Probably he was feeling more comfortable playing that way, at that intensity, at that rhythm of the ball possession and ball circulation. So probably he needs also some time.”
Stern words of motivation from Jose Mourinho after dropping Martial from the 4-0 win over Feyenoord.
However, it’s not just the goals that have dried up for Martial; the Frenchman’s overall efforts and contribution has been unimaginative and lacklustre. With Mkhitaryan’s impressive return in midweek and Memphis eagerly waiting in the wings, the Frenchman’s starting spot in the side is under intense scrutiny – something Jose Mourinho highlights:
“But in our squad, for these positions, we have Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Martial. These are probably the positions where we have more options. And, you have one opportunity, you have two, you have three – if you don’t bite, then somebody comes and takes the meat.
“They are friends, they are colleagues, they work together every day, but in the end they compete between themselves to have more chances to play.”
With such an abundance of talent at his disposal, Martial should take Mourinho’s public plea seriously. After already dropping Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Wayne Rooney (and of course completely exiling Bastian Schweinsteiger) from the side already this season, Mourinho doesn’t make light-hearted threats.
But what has happened to Martial? In the managerial intermission, he seems one of the few players who aren’t committed to the Mourinho cause? Why is he a shell of the lethal, unforgiving and relentless player he was last season?
Well, for starters Martial has endured some difficult publicity off the field after his highly publicised break-up with Samantha Jacquelinet; not only his ex-girlfriend but also the mother of his child. In the aftermath, Samantha Jacquelinet took a swipe at Manchester United, stating:
“He was thrust into the limelight and it all just exploded. Young girls were throwing themselves at him. I was told United was a family club but off the pitch he didn’t get any guidance. Manchester United have ruined my life.”
In addition, despite his scoring exploits last season, Martial was relinquished of his number nine jersey in the wake of Ibrahimovic’s move to Manchester United in the summer.
His agent, Philippe Lamboley, stated earlier this month:
“I’m not going to lie to you. Yes, it got to him. Yes, it surprised him. Yes, he was disappointed… for two days.
“Personally, I find that decision out-of-order and disrespectful to my player. I told Manchester United’s board that. You just don’t do it. So we accepted it, we turned the page, but we didn’t rip it up.”
It’s understandable that the Frenchman should be feel undermined. Not only could it be perceived as a public embarrassment, but also the numerical change thwarted the Frenchman’s plans to develop the AM9 brand.
Nonetheless, despite his struggles off the pitch, Martial simply needs to resurrect his form – and quickly. Although it’s tough burdening such a hot media spotlight, Martial needs to adapt to this level of media scrutiny, especially if he hopes to reach his sizeable potential – I mean hey, just as Wayne Rooney!
Moreover, it’s worth noting that despite Mourinho’s constant lollygagging with the starting eleven this season, he’s beginning to settle on a consistent team. With Mkhitaryan eager to strut his game and Memphis yet to showcase his talent this season, Martial could fall to the back of a very long, and extremely talented queue.