Anthony Martial

Last time out, Marcus Rashford let down his teammates, his club and his manager. With his team 2-0 up and cruising, Rashford let the heat of the moment get the better of him. Inexplicably, the English youngster leaned his head into Burnley defender Phil Bardsley. This was deemed as a headbutt, and with that, Manchester United were sent down to 10-men with 19 minutes to go, putting themselves under unnecessary pressure. The 21-year-old will now serve a three-match domestic ban. This, in turn, leaves the door open for Anthony Martial.

Here’s why Anthony Martial needs to step up in the absence of Marcus Rashford.

Life hasn’t been so easy for Anthony Martial at Manchester United ever since José Mourinho took over. So far this season, Martial has made one league appearance, despite being fit and not going to the World Cup in the summer. Put quite frankly, José Mourinho has a clear issue with the Frenchman and that disdain is clear for all to see. However, Rashford’s suspension is a golden opportunity for the 22-year-old to stake an unlikely claim in the first team.

On his day, Anthony Martial is arguably one of the best wide forwards in world football. The Frenchman’s wizardry dribbling, direct style and world-class finesse finishing are a nightmare for any defender to deal with. His natural God-given ability is unparalleled not only at Manchester United but in the Premier League.  So why does José Mourinho have a problem with him?

Well, the 22-year-old’s attitude towards defensive work has always been the sticking point between him and the manager. Mourinho is notorious for his off the ball demands of his attackers; it’s the reason why he was at odds with players like; Kevin De Bruyne, Mohammed Salah & Romelu Lukaku, all players who have since gone on to prove him wrong. The 55-year-old wants every one of his eleven players to press, track and cover space off the ball, regardless of whether that limits their effectiveness in attack.

On paper, Manchester United have the best attack in the Premier League, but José Mourinho’s pragmatic ways have not allowed them to showcase their talents. That’s why Alexis Sánchez, Rashford, Lukaku and even Paul Pogba have looked average at best over the past few months.

In attack, the team have no structure or pattern to their play in the final third. Mourinho just allows his attackers to freestyle, and when they don’t deliver, he drops them – talk about great coaching!

After the international break, Martial will have three chances to prove himself and set a marker for the rest of the season at Manchester United.

  • Watford (A)
  • Wolves (H)
  • Derby County (H)

Luckily for the Frenchman, there are three games against lesser opposition that he should easily be able to impose himself on. In the absence of direct competition, Martial’s spot in United’s front three is guaranteed for now. Whether he can sustain that past Rashford’s ban is another question. If Anthony Martial wants to become a key player for Manchester United this season, he must step up in the temporary absence of Marcus Rashford.

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