Mar­tial’s chance to fight for his fu­ture

Manchester Evening News - - UNITED SPECIAL - By CIARAN KELLY

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

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