Mar­tial takes cen­tre stage for Reds

Viet Nam News - - SPORT -

BOURNEMOUTH — An­thony Mar­tial may fi­nally be ful­fill­ing his enor­mous po­ten­tial amid a tur­bu­lent sea­son at Manch­ester United as Jose Mour­inho plots how best to use his at­tack­ing re­sources.

The France forward heads into Satur­day’s clash at Bournemouth on a run of four goals in three Pre­mier League matches – a se­quence that can only have boosted his frag­ile con­fi­dence.

His re­cent run is rem­i­nis­cent of the fab­u­lous start he made at Old Traf­ford, when he scored four goals in his first four games fol­low­ing his move from Monaco in Septem­ber 2015 for a fee that could ul­ti­mately rise to £58 mil­lion (US$75 mil­lion).

The forward strug­gled badly last sea­son. Hav­ing be­come used to shar­ing du­ties on the left flank with Mar­cus Rash­ford, his op­por­tu­ni­ties were lim­ited fol­low­ing the Jan­uary ar­rival of Alexis Sanchez from Arse­nal.

Mar­tial’s form and con­fi­dence tailed off, to the ex­tent that he was left out of the France squad that won the World Cup in Rus­sia this sum­mer.

The player in­di­cated dur­ing the close sea­son, via his agent Philippe Lam­bo­ley, that he was ready to leave United, and while Mour­inho was ap­par­ently will­ing to sell ex­ec­u­tive vice-chair­man Ed Wood­ward re­jected the idea.

This sea­son ini­tially looked as if it would be lit­tle bet­ter af­ter Mar­tial started just one of United’s open­ing six matches, but Sanchez’s fail­ure to set­tle com­bined with the strug­gles of Romelu Lukaku in the cen­tre-forward role have pushed Mar­tial right back into the pic­ture.

The French­man has been re­stored to his favoured po­si­tion, on the left of the at­tack, where he is able to cut in­side and cre­ate chances for oth­ers as well as scor­ing goals him­self – five in eight starts so far.

Those goals have come at key times.

He scored the equaliser as United came back from two goals down to beat New­cas­tle in early Oc­to­ber, struck twice in a 2-2 draw at Chelsea, and scored what turned out to be the win­ner as Ever­ton were de­feated 2-1 on Sun­day.

Each goal was a re­minder to his manager and team­mates about what he can do when he is in the mood.


“He is still young and I think if he con­tin­ues to score in the next game he will get that. If he reaches his top level he can be one of the best play­ers in the league for sure.”

It is not just Mar­tial’s team­mates who are talk­ing him up.

For­mer United cap­tain Gary Neville, now a tele­vi­sion pun­dit, said he was as­ton­ished to find that the forward’s statis­tics – in terms of goals and as­sists re­lated to time on the pitch over the equiv­a­lent of a full sea­son – were as good as Chelsea’s Eden Haz­ard’s.

Neville’s crit­i­cism was that Mar­tial needed to im­prove his move­ment off the ball, as he cov­ered less ground than any out­field player on ei­ther side who played the full 90 min­utes on Sun­day.

Yet Mar­tial made four of the nine key United passes that led to a goal or a di­rect scor­ing chance.

“The qual­ity is there, and the con­fi­dence is there now,” says Matic. “He just needs to be more con­sis­tent.” — AFP

On form: Manch­ester United forward An­thony Mar­tial has four goals in his past three Pre­mierLeague games. — AFP Photo

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