“Welcome to Manchester United, Anthony Martial”
These words jog my memory back to one of the most iconic debut goals scored at the Theatre of Dreams. The moment Martial skipped the ball past Martin Škrtel and placed it at the bottom corner will resonate with United fans for a long time to follow. That goal was the perfect reply to all the criticism directed towards the teenager before he kicked a ball for Manchester United. And that certainly stirred up the Tony Martial hype, but has Anthony Martial lived up to his debut hype?
Anthony Martial joined Manchester united on the summer transfer deadline day of 2015 and was greeted with a great deal of skepticism from the British media. He let his play do the talking when he scored against Liverpool, United’s greatest rivals, on his debut. This led to great expectations from the United faithful for the heights that Martial could reach. You can say he lived up to those expectations by scoring 11 goals in his first season at the club. But how far has his progression come? Well if numbers spoke the truth, which they most certainly do, the progress hasn’t gone at an ideal pace. The biggest testament to that is the fact that Anthony Martial has never scored more goals in a season than his tally for the first season with United.
We can all clearly see the amount of talent at hand, then why is there still a debate over him? The answer might be that he hasn’t got much help from the club, and if anything, they’ve made his path to progression harder. Zlatan and Lukaku’s arrival in consecutive seasons meant that Martial was no longer played at his preferred Center Forward position, and he was subsequently pushed to the left wing. Towards the Christmas period of 2017, Martial seemed to be having a great deal of success on the left and this is when United decided to buy Alexis Sanchez, which moved Martial to the right. All of the chopping and changing topped with injuries and his off field issues meant that Tony Martial never had a consistent period of time on the field based on which we could evaluate him.
What we do know though, is that when he has gotten the opportunity to show us what he has got, we haven’t been disappointed. The first half of 2017-18 and as well as parts of 2018-19 season Martial showed us glimpses of the heights he can potentially reach. His teammates have rightly admired the talent that Martial is, but it is on him to reach those heights and go beyond them for his, as well as the future of Manchester United. Martial started this season with 2 goals in 3 games before he went down with an injury but I firmly believe that once he is back and playing consistently, we’ll have a lot more evidence to judge how much he has lived up to the hype he created when he ended Škrtel’s career. I, for one, believe in one of the most talented players at the club to reach those heights and become the star that United needs him to be.