United hope Mar­tial’s goal against Stoke will in­spire him more

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports - DAVID BILLINGTON

Iover­heard this week that Manch­ester United coach­ing staff were re­lieved when An­thony Mar­tial came off the bench and scored last Sun­day against Stoke. I am told they had been very wor­ried about the men­tal state of the French in­ter­na­tional. He split ear­lier this year from Sa­man­tha, the mother of his 15-month-old daugh­ter Pey­ton. Fol­low­ing that, Sa­man­tha made sev­eral ac­cu­sa­tions against An­thony and he is known to have taken it very hard and it cer­tainly af­fected his form in the Eu­ros this sum­mer. Both staff and man­ager are hop­ing that the Stoke goal will give him the spring­board he needs to re­cap­ture the form we know he is ca­pa­ble of and put his wor­ries be­hind him.

FABRE­GAS ON THE MOVE

Call­ing in at Chelsea this week, I found out that An­to­nio Conte is ready to lis­ten to ap­proaches for mid­fielder Cesc Fabre­gas. He has a £30mil­lion re­lease clause in his con­tract but this has not put off two clubs; West Ham and In­ter Mi­lan.

The 29-year-old has yet to start a match un­der Conte and is clearly not a favourite, be­ing brought on late in most games and is used spar­ingly. Not the sort of treat­ment the ex-Arse­nal and Barcelona star is used to and he has been ex­press­ing his frus­tra­tion lately. Fabre­gas is cur­rently on nearly £160,000-a-week salary and would re­lease more funds for Chelsea when the trans­fer win­dow opens af­ter Christ­mas.

MIKEL RE­AS­SURED

One player who will not be leav­ing Chelsea now is John Obi Mikel, who was ex­pected to leave af­ter spend­ing much time on the bench. How­ever, An­to­nio Conte and the Nige­rian star have had heart-to-heart talks and the player has been told that Conte is plan­ning a cen­tral role with the op­tion to move for­ward and and that he should wait pa­tiently and it will all work out for him. Mikel has only a year left on his con­tract and could then leave for free. How­ever, Chelsea are de­ter­mined to hold on to him.

CASH IN THE BANK

Arse­nal fans can will be happy to know that if Arsene Wenger needs more ex­pen­sive play­ers, there is plenty of cash in the bank. Arse­nal have re­vealed that they have £226.5mil­lion in their ac­count which is more than Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bay­ern Mu­nich com­bined! But they still trail Manch­ester United, who have £229mil­lion and that is af­ter pay­ing out a world record for Paul Pogba!

LIVER­POOL FANS PLEASED

Jur­gen Klopp is ap­proach­ing his first year an­niver­sary at Liver­pool. But the charis­matic Ger­man won’t be cel­e­brat­ing—even with a drink. But one thing he will recog­nise, be­cause back­room staff and fans all tell him, is that he has given sup­port­ers back their en­joy­ment and their pas­sion. Many had stopped look­ing for­ward to com­ing to An­field un­der pre­vi­ous man­ager Bren­dan Rogers and the team was un­der­per­form­ing and were of­ten very poor. But now the resur­gent team is chal­leng­ing for the top spots in the Premier League and ev­ery­one con­nected with the club is up­beat. But Klopp ad­mits that the hard work is only be­gin­ning to main­tain their im­pres­sive start to the sea­son.

BARKLEY TO IM­PROVE

One of the big talk­ing points around Ever­ton th­ese days is Ross Barkley. Like Wayne Rooney, Stephen Ger­rard and Rob­bie Fowler, he grew up in Liver­pool kick­ing a ball around the streets and learn­ing his skills. But whereas those three play­ers went on to be the best, Ross has been un­der­per­form­ing for quite some time.

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