Without wanting to overdramatise, Anthony Martial is in the middle of the most pronounced slump of his short career at Manchester United. The Frenchman arrived under a cloud of speculation and surprise on transfer deadline day a year ago for a small fortune from AS Monaco, with plenty in England and within the club’s fanbase scratching their heads as to why United were willing to commit £35m to an unknown teenager who hadn’t properly established himself.
Of course, that all changed on his debut at Old Trafford, as he scored a magnificent solo goal in United’s 3-1 victory over Liverpool in front of the Stretford End, writing himself into club folklore in the process. He scored 17 goals in total last season, including a priceless late winner against Everton in United’s FA Cup semi-final and was easily the best outfield player that the club had to offer throughout the entirety of Louis van Gaal’s last campaign in charge.
This season hasn’t been nearly as straightforward for Martial, and despite starts in five of United’s six games in the Premier and Europa League, he’s yet to find the net. A worrying aerial collision with Daryl Janmaat and a tough tackle on his ankle in United’s 3-1 loss to Watford on Sunday also meant that a groggy-looking Martial had to be removed in the first half of the game at Vicarage Road.
When pressed by reporters after the match, United manager Jose Mourinho was none-the-wiser as to Martial’s current state, as per the following quotes from Manutd.com: “I don’t know, I promise I don’t know. You are asking about things I cannot tell you.”
“I didn’t know why he came off, whether he was injured in his knee, his ankle or his head. I don’t know. I just know, in that moment, he is not in a condition to carry on. I don’t know why. I just know I had to change. I don’t know yet what happened.”
It’s difficult to predict if Martial will be out for a substantial period of time, or whether he’ll be out at all. Wednesday’s EFL Cup game against Northampton Town presents an opportunity for him and several of his colleagues to play their way out of their early-season blues, and you wonder if Mourinho will utilise him at some stage in an effort to boost the Frenchman’s confidence. Either way, United’s leader will be hoping to see Martial firing on all cylinders as soon as humanly possible.