Anthony Martial has started the 2022/23 pre-season in style, scoring three goals in three games for Manchester United. Considering he was a player that was written off based on last season’s form and his poor loan spell at Sevilla, his attitude and focus on the tour has been fantastic. We all knew the player has the talent and the potential but the attitude was a problem.
Granted, he has not found the back of the net against Aston Villa or Atletico Madrid in the last two pre-season matches he was involved in but his performances have been positive and his positioning has been focused on scoring goal, which just have not come. Martial, 26, is a great talent when he is in form.
Of course, over the years his form has been the problem but equally, problems were cause for him, especially when Zlatan Ibrahimovic signed for the club and he lost his number nine shirt at the start of the 2016/17 season, wearing the number 11 for three seasons before getting it back at the start of the 2019/20 season.
The Premier League Golden Boot is an honour that Martial would like to win at some stage in his career, no matter how unrealistic that may seem at this time. One clause in his original contract would have paid money out if he won the Ballon d’Or, which may seem unlikely but a Golden Boot is something he could aim to achieve – even if he does not win it.
The past seven seasons
Martial signed for United on deadline day in 2015 in a transfer that surprised many, which was initially slated by United supporters. But as soon as he scored his debut goal against Liverpool at Old Trafford, they knew he could be a talent. So far, Martial has made 269 appearances for United, scoring 79 goals and 50 assists.
His best season came in 2019/20 where he made 48 appearances, scoring 23 goals and 12 assists. It was the season that was split because of the coronavirus pandemic with a three-month lockdown in the United Kingdom with the Premier League season playing out through the summer. Martial and his teammates were on fire.
There have been some very poor seasons from the French forward, which have rightly seen him slated for his attitude. Last season was one of the worst for him as he managed just two goals and one assist in 23 appearances, spending the second half of the season at Sevilla on loan. It is clear that he needs to root out the problems he suffers from.
There has been many off the pitch issues for Martial during his time at United, which will have weighed him down at times but the lack of stability at United, having five different managers during his time at the club will be a big contribution factor to his demise in the game. Also the confidence knocks that he has received plus all the injuries.
The future of the French striker
The main argument of the last seven seasons for Martial is the lack of coaching. Louis van Gaal’s methods were questionable, as were Jose Mourinho’s. Ole Gunnar Solskjær had a long honeymoon period as he took over at United but coaching was also a problem. Under Ralf Rangnick, holes were shown and only now under Erik ten Hag does a plan seem to be in place.
Ten Hag is the dominant coach that United have needed since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and the fact that he will stand for no nonsense is admirable and could get things working – but Rome was not built in a day. This new era at United could start to get the likes of Martial scoring the goals again and challenging for club and individual honours.
The Premier League Golden Boot is something that all goalscorer would like to win in their career. Just five players at United have won the Golden Boot; Dwight Yorke (shared with Michael Owen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink), Ruud van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dimitar Berbatov (shared with Carlos Tevez) and Robin van Persie.
Over the last four seasons, the Premier League Golden Boot has been won by scoring just 22 goals in the 2018/19 season where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah shared it, to 23 goals over the last three seasons with Jamie Vardy (2019/20), Harry Kane (2020/21) and last season when Salah and Heung-min Son shared it.
Martial could compete with those number if he really put his mind to it and had a great supply of creation behind him, which could be what Christian Eriksen does at the club this season.
Written by John Walker