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The match against Arsenal this past weekend had many highs and a few moments which will find their way into the history books, one of which was the strike from Mkhitaryan, that gave The Gunner faithful a burst of energy. There was the sign of mutual respect from an old foe, Sir Alex towards Arsene Wenger. There was the goal that was almost was produced by Alexis Sanchez, who is fast becoming one of the better players to don the jersey of the Red Devils, alongside Lingard, Hererra, Martial and Rashford.
The outcome of the match was decided in the dying minutes during extra time in the 91st minute when Marouane Fellaini scored the winner for the Red Devils and gave United the three points. The tie ended 2-1 and the result made sure United are qualifying for the Champions League next season with 3 matches to spare.
It was a match that will be remembered forever for the lucky goal that Fellaini managed to get into the net in Fergie time. But, there was another player on the field who was trying to show the manager that he is first team material, that he should be allowed to play a game from the start and that he has the skills to take the team to the championship – Anthony Martial.
The French International has started to become a constant bench warmer after United got Sanchez in the swap deal at the start of 2018. After all Sanchez does play the coveted left winger post, one which has players like Lingard, Marital, and Rashford vying for it, and he is brilliant there, so it makes sense that the manager would start Sanchez for every game. But, this comes at the cost of the other talented players in the team.
Martial has played a total of 7 games in 2018, as against a team total games of 14, in which he has scored 3 times. This is a player who has not had any major physical complications marring his performance. Every time he comes on the field he goes all out, trying to force the issue and get into the box, if someone gets into the box with him, it usually ends up with a goal.
Martial is a player who plays for the team, who after every goal, kisses his patch and yet the manager doesn’t play him as often as he does his pet- Fellaini. A player who is so absurdly useless that it behooves an explanation from the manager as to why he keeps playing him, compared to Martial, who manages to get at least two goals on target every time he plays for more than an hour.
The one problem that can be laid at Martial’s feet is that he is a player who doesn’t care about anyone else on the field but himself and that he tries to push and force issues when passing the ball would have resulted in a goal being scored. True, those are very good reasons. But, two problems:
One: This is Manchester United. This is a team that loves players who play for themselves and the club, this is a club that had giants who ran at the opposition and turned the tide of the game, this is a club that scores winners in the death time, this is a club whose counterattack was so feared that teams usually left behind a part of the middle field when coming for taking the set pieces.
Two: Martial knows that he only gets a few minutes every game to prove his worth to the manager, so as to change his perception and get him to add Martial to the starting XI. What we see every time Martial comes on stage are both raw football talent and the struggle of a player trying to find his place in a team that is starting to not care about him.
Losing Martial during the Summer Transfer window can be an unmitigated disaster for United. Even though he is contracted to be with United until 2019, the caliber of Martial makes him a good investment for any top tier club who can afford to break his contract.