Martial’s chance to fight for his future
ANTHONY Martial did not look like an unhappy man as he breezed into Carrington on Wednesday morning.
Armed with his trusted wash bag, the Frenchman threw a peace sign and a smile as he swaggered towards the cameras perched by the player’s entrance.
It was hardly the demeanour of a player who was tossing and turning about his future. Or, indeed, fearing a potentially awkward reunion with Jose Mourinho.
The very fact Martial returned for pre-season training said enough – and it is telling that it has been the 22-year-old’s agent who has been doing the talking.
Philippe Lamboley’s words - that his client wanted to leave the club - sent shock waves around the football world last month, but United were not about to panic. Indeed, Mourinho has seen it all before.
“I know he’s a top talent, but he needs to listen to me, not his agent. He needs to listen to me in training, where I try to improve the players,” he said back in December, 2016 when there was a suggestion Martial could go on loan to Sevilla.
You can bet Mourinho will repeat those words when he inevitably pulls Martial in for a one-on-one chat in his office as he reassures him about his prospects under him. And not for the first time as he tries to get inside Martial’s head. In contrast, one of the reasons why Marcus Rashford has been Mourinho’s most used player at United is because they had an instant connection. No matter the goal drought, Mourinho could press the youngster and squeeze him - and get a positive reaction. Using those tactics with Martial does not always produce the same response, but this is a player with a point to prove. Whatever about Alexis Sanchez’s arrival, Martial’s form nosedived last season. And that can’’t just be blamed on Sanchez, who has set up camp in his favoured role on the left. Ciaran Kelly
Indeed, it is easy to forget that Martial produced his best run of form last season following United’s not-so-secret pursuit of Ivan Perisic and with Rashford pushing him.
Martial played not only like his place in the team depended on it but, also, with his World Cup dream very much alive.
Martial will be watching on Sunday when France bid to win the competition for the second time.
The task for the Frenchman is to use that pain, that memory, to push him on - and he will get an immediate chance to do just that. This summer’s tour is a real chance for Martial to lay down a marker.
Indeed, given the shortage of forwards available, with Romelu Lukaku and Rashford absent, you could easily envisage Martial getting the chance to shine up front in the US. And he will have to prove he is ready for the fight.
Anthony Martial’s agent has said the striker wants to leave United