Manchester United improved their performance-levels on Sunday, beating Everton 2-1 at Old Trafford in a game that they were always in control of.
Once again, the match-winning hero was Anthony Martial. The scintillating Frenchman scored another absolute pearler, leaving Jordan Pickford helpless in the Everton goal.
His pace, directness, on-ball ability and deadly finishing is nothing short of a joy to behold. We’re lucky to have him, hopefully, he puts pen to paper on a new United contract in the not too distant future.
However, he does still have off-days, I guess that’s normal when you’re young and still developing. That hasn’t stopped Gary Neville delving deeper, though, and the pundit has explained why he still has doubts about the former AS Monaco man.
“There’s never been a player over the last ten years at Manchester United that I have been confused by as much [as Martial]. I cannot make my mind up.” Neville told Sky Sports, per Goal.
“Sometimes I think he is brilliant and other weeks I think that I am not sure he is a Manchester United player.
“What drives me crazy about him is his off-the-ball work. He doesn’t know where to be and where to run at the right times.”
“He’s either a five or a nine and what you want is a seven or eight with the odd nine.
“I looked at the physical stats of Martial and the other players like Mane and Salah and again, I got the shock of my life. I thought that’s why Deschamps, Mourinho and others don’t fancy you.
“Look at the players in and around him. Mane runs almost 2km more. Hazard – who gets accused of not working hard – runs 1.5km more than Martial. Martial is well down on his physical stuff.
His work ethic has always been the criticism. At times, I think it’s justified. When he’s having an off-day he can go missing for large portions, sometimes, you genuinely forget that he is playing.
Perhaps it’s something that eventually Martial will work into his game. I think if he wants to reach that elite tier than he’ll absolutely have to do that. In the modern-day game, working on both sides of the ball is hugely important, and it does explain why the Frenchman found himself out of the team so regularly last season – particularly when notoriously hard-working footballers were playing in his place.
With that said, he’s by far and away our best attacking option right now so he has to start week-in-week-out. It could be an idea to play him through the middle as that’s an area of the field where you don’t have to track back as much…