The rumor mill has started to swing once again with one more fresh rumour. According to reports in France, Manchester United winger Anthony Martial has turned down a 5-year contract extension with the club as he is reportedly unhappy with reduced playing time at the club.
Martial, signed by Van Gaal on deadline day 2015, was one of the most surprising transfers ever. It was like a panic buy, a great risk to buy an unknown 19-year-old all gone right. Martial was undoubtedly one of the surprise packages in the Premier League in his debut campaign, having destroyed the entire Liverpool defense on his debut. Martial was one of the most important player that season, having helped the club win the FA Cup and being the clubs top scorer that season with 18 goals in all competition. He also discovered a new position which reincarnated his career for the good by converting into a winger from a striker. His positional transition looked as if he was born to play on the wing owing to his world-class dribbling and ball controlling ability.
But, now in the 2017/18, Martial has had a roll-coaster like season with lots of ups and downs. Right from dribbling past Dani Carvajal, one of the world’s best right backs in the pre-season tournament too being one of the stand-out performers this season, until January. Martial had thought to have caught Mourinho’s eye and gained his trust until January when the unexpected happened. Mourinho signed Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitarayan, who left United in search for more game time.
Sanchez arrived with a lot of expectation and even more after he was given the number 7 shirt. The number 7, United’s most iconic shirt, worn by legends like Beckham, Cantona, Best and Ronaldo. After two unsuccessful spells with the shirt, Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay left the club after massive pressure and failure to live up to the expectation to the shirt. Sanchez’s arrival automatically cemented a starting spot on the left wing for Sanchez, leaving youngsters like Rashford and Martial to settle for a place on the bench. It was expected that with the arrival of Sanchez, there would be a sense of insecurity and would threaten Martial for the starting spot on the left. Sanchez can play on the left and right of the wings and also as an attacking midfielder and striker, so it wasn’t thought as a big concern for Martial. But, now the situation is different. Martial has scored 9 goals and assisted 5 in the Premier League this season in 26 games.
Ever since Sanchez has joined, Martial hasn’t had a consistent run of games. His last start was against Chelsea on 25th February. Martial is only effective on the left, even though he is compatible on the right. But, in United’s style of play, Martial has always been dangerous through the left wing not the right, due to his weaker foot. Whereas, Sanchez is more an experienced and versatile player who can play anywhere in attack. Sanchez, although starts from the left, tends to create chances from the center instead of the wings. It is his style of play, he more of the creative attackers. Starting him from the left is illogical when he tends to attack from the center. Might as well play him as an attacking midfielder or as a right winger. Why to waste opportunities of young players, when a far more versatile player can play in different positions and is good at it.
Manager, Jose Mourinho has stated in his pre-match press conference against West Brom, that it isn’t possible to play 22 players all together when you can only play 11. It would be lot easier when you only have 11 players with no injuries, tiredness and fatigue. In short, Jose meant to say that competition is so fierce that it isn’t possible to include all world-class players at once. It’s not that they play because of form, they play because of compatibility. However, the manager hasn’t confirmed about the players future. Martial too wants to stay at the club but wants reassurances of his playing time.
With the double game week against West Brom and Bournemouth coming up and the FA Cup Semi-Final against Spurs just around the corner, we should expect some changes and build-up for the big game, where the manager will be looking to play his best side in the hopes of wining the prestigious trophy. We could see Martial feature or even starting alongside Sanchez, to ease the confidence and extinguish the rumors. Jose has stated that the team have been training well and they have also tried new drills and tactical regimes to increase the moral of the players and maintain high spirits in the camp. So, we could see a Martial-Sanchez link-up pretty soon. Martial has been linked with a move to PSG, Juventus and Atletico Madrid, but, shouldn’t be on the move as he will definitely feature and settle into the side, brushing away all rumors. West Brom, play us home at Old Trafford and are sitting last in the league, nearly relegated. It will be a comparatively easy game and we could see some rotation.
To conclude, Mourinho needs to start man managing his players, now after the club have cleared away from a busy and difficult few fixtures. Mourinho should also try and accommodate Martial and Sanchez in the same side when, it is possible and never tried. If you never try, you never know! Mourinho has to start Martial and Sanchez together in the final months of the season to salvage the latter’s career.
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