The Not-So Special One: Why Anthony Martial Is in Danger of Ruin Unless Things Change at Man Utd

It was another desperately disappointing afternoon for ​Manchester United on Sunday, with Jose Mourinho’s lacklustre side slumping to a surprise 3-2 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion.

What’s more troubling for United fans is that this latest setback adds to a catalogue of problems to recently engulf the club. An objectively disappointing transfer window, where the club failed to deliver the signing of a much needed world class centre back, coupled with general unrest caused by the antics and behaviour of Mourinho, would suggest that things are falling apart at the seams of one of English football’s greatest institutions.

A particular concern recently has seen the relationship that Mourinho has with some of his players seemingly deteriorate, with alleged problems with star player Paul Pogba dominating the headlines. One long standing issue since Mourinho took charge at the ​Red Devils a little over two years ago though has been the utilisation of young sensation Anthony Martial.

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Having been bought to Old Trafford under a wave of optimism for an initial £36m three years ago, Martial was tipped as the next big thing in world football. Compared to the legendary Thierry Henry, the then 19-year-old was strongly backed by many to become a leading light and spearhead United’s attack for years to come.

What’s transpired for Martial since the departure of Louis van Gaal after his first season in England has been hugely disappointing. Shoved out wide to accommodate first Zlatan Ibrahimović, and then Romelu Lukaku, 22-year-old Martial has become a peripheral figure at the club – and one that is barely able to force himself onto the pitch as a substitute when Mourinho has a full pool of players available to him.

Yes, his goal return of 11 in 31 ​Premier League appearances during that solitary season under van Gaal certainly wasn’t spectacular, but it certainly wasn’t disastrous. Martial was adapting to the speed of the Premier League, and put in a number of impressive performances, despite the goals column perhaps not suggesting he was contributing enough. Of those 31 appearances, 29 of those were starts – and only twice was Martial replaced during the course of the 90 minutes.

West Ham United v Manchester United - The Emirates FA Cup Sixth Round Replay

Under van Gaal you felt Martial was trusted by the manager. Under Mourinho, you feel that is anything but the case. Replaced by Zlatan up top in the Portuguese manager’s first season in charge, Martial saw his claim to be United’s striking option significantly marginalised. It must be said, you can understand the rationale behind needing to improve United’s striking options. A fifth place Premier League finish, despite the winning of the FA Cup, was simply not enough for a club of the Red Devils’ size and stature.

The problem for Martial was that it wasn’t just Zlatan’s arrival that threatened his place in the team. The emergence of the talented Marcus Rashford provided yet more competition, and it soon became apparent that Mourinho didn’t see a place for Martial up front. To make matters worse, Zlatan even took his number 9 shirt –  a further indication of what was to come at Old Trafford.

As a result, Martial has found his new home on the left wing. Granted, he has all the attributes in his locker to make playing in that position work – his raw pace and power testament to the fact that Martial has some of the tools required to play the ‘modern winger’ role. But what we’ve seen though over the duration of Mourinho’s tenure is his inability to gain his manager’s full backing, and as a result, a significant drop in confidence and performance.

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His meagre goal return in that season of four league goals in 25 appearances was troubling, and only 18 of those appearances were from the start. Martial was taken off by Mourinho a startling 11 times during that season, and it didn’t get any better last year either – 13 times he was substituted from again, 18 Premier League starts.

The goal tally slightly improved, but Mourinho’s desire to use him as a left winger with increased defensive responsibilities just hasn’t worked. It even cost Martial a shot at getting into France’s World Cup winning squad this summer. Now, the idea of Martial playing up top as the central striker under Mourinho seems also unthinkable now that Lukaku is top dog at the club.

Throw the signing of Alexis Sanchez into the mix and you can understand why Martial cuts a frustrated, almost disinterested figure on the United touchline. On Sunday, he was back in the starting XI, but only because Alexis missed the game through injury.

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United were very poor, and sadly for Martial, he was too. Put simply, he wasn’t a factor in the game. His thirst and desire to burst into the box from wide areas has all but evaporated. It could be tactical instructions from Mourinho, or it could be just the aforementioned dip in confidence – either way, Martial was ineffective and it was little surprise to see him replaced by Marouane Fellaini with just under half an hour to go.

Sadly for him, that is Mourinho’s way of thinking. Needing a goal, what does he do? Sacrifice a man whose potential transfer fee could cost United up to £58m. Mourinho has been critical of Martial both on and off the pitch, and although that doesn’t seem unusual given his track record of falling out with players, it’s a further indication that the former ​La Liga and ​Serie A winning boss just doesn’t fancy sorting things out.

With that said, Martial seems to be a problem that United have now decided they are unable to fix. Talk all summer long has been over potential transfer destinations for Martial and whether or not United will look to cash in on him as he enters the final year of his deal. 

Throw in the fact that United decided to fine Martial £180,000 for leaving a pre-season training camp to attend the birth of his son and you start to see the unveiling of a very unsavoury picture. What’s for certain is that Martial is fast fading away from the Old Trafford spotlight, and barring a sudden change in management, he looks almost certain to walk away from the club.

Madness from the club maybe, or madness from Mourinho. Either way, the real losers from this situation are both Manchester United, and Anthony Martial himself. A bad player he is not, but unless he finds a way to convince his manager of his worth soon, or leaves Old Trafford for pastures new – Martial’s potentially glittering career faces ruin.

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4 Things We Learned From Brighton’s Surprise Win Over Lacklustre Manchester United

Manchester United suffered their first defeat of the season away to Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.

A calamitous first half for United saw the Seagulls net three times. An opener from Glenn Murray was quickly doubled after more poor defending from the Red Devils, as centre back Shane Duffy smartly put away a second. A Pascal Gross spot kick restored Brighton’s two-goal lead after Romelu Lukaku pulled one back. 

An injury time penalty in the second half from Paul Pogba wasn’t enough to get United back into the game, resigning Jose Mourinho to a dour day in the dugout. 

Here are four things we learned from Sunday’s game. 

4. Glenn Murray Is Priceless for Seagulls

A classy opener was the cherry on top of a brilliant afternoon’s work for the 34-year-old striker. 

Not only his intelligence to find himself in the perfect place for his goal impressed but the way he lead the line optimised Brighton’s work ethic. Fighting for every ball and putting his opposition defenders under pressure helped Brighton push up the pitch.

Netting 12 times last season was vital to his teams survival and his goalscoring knack will be required again if Chris Hughton hopes to see his side repeat the same feat come May.

3. Jose’s Defensive Nightmare Comes True

It was an afternoon to forget for Manchester United’s defence, as a series of calamitous errors cost the English giants dearly. 

One of the persistent gripes of Jose Mourinho during the summer transfer window was the failure to sign a central defender; which Mourinho craved. All of his pre-season frustrations would’ve turned into anger as he saw both Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelöf make errors which led to goals. 

Mourinho is not a figure to back down, and the conflict with Chief Executive Ed Woodward will only grow after Sunday’s defeat. 

2. Chris Hughton Works Wonders Again

You won’t find many bad words said about Chris Hughton. 

Branded as the ‘nice guy’ of football, Hughton has earned himself plaudits over his managerial career for his calm demeanour and respectful attitude. Though the kind exterior shouldn’t be fooled for a lack of conviction; which Hughton most certainly has. 

Brighton’s well drilled and structured performance is indicative of the hard work of their boss,  who masterminded survival last season and shouldn’t be written off to accomplish the same again. 

1. The Start of Mourinho’s Downfall?

Yes its only two games in, but it’s hard to look past the warning signs.

A pre-season ridden with frustration and negative headlines were slightly put the bed with the win over Leicester, but Sunday’s result will only infuse those baying for blood. 

A shambolic first half in which three goals were conceded to a side within the bottom half had all the signs of Chelsea’s 15/16 implosion which led to Mourinho’s dismissal. Manchester United looked like a side without impetus, fight or creativity. 

Players have to be held accountable, but Jose Mourinho’s ‘third season’ isn’t synonymous for no reason and unless the mood changes around Old Trafford quickly, things could get worse for Manchester United.

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Why it Wasn’t All Bad for Man Utd This Weekend Despite Shock Brighton Horror Show

Manchester United fell to a shock 3-2 defeat against Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, after a dismal performance from Jose Mourinho’s team that gifted the determined Seagulls the victory and has raised further questions about the season ahead.

Despite the achievements of the last two seasons – winning the Europa League and later finishing second with an 80-point haul – optimism now seems to be at an all time low in the five years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

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Things are perhaps not as objectively bad as they were during the Moyes era, or quite as turgid as the Van Gaal years, but the fact that this team was supposed to be a major success by now under Mourinho after enormous spending makes it all seem somehow much, much worse.

But this Sunday did at least have one important high. That is because just as Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and co. were kicking off for United at the Amex Stadium down on the south coast, the club’s brand new women’s team had just finished their first competitive game.


It had been 13 long years since the previous senior women’s team was folded by the club in 2005, but they celebrated their long awaited rebirth with a 1-0 win away against top flight Liverpool in the League Cup to kick off a new era.

Clear chances had been few and far between in the game but Scottish forward Lizzie Arnot struck late to decide the game. The 22-year-old was in the right place at the right time to turn the ball home at the back post after a cross from new United captain, England left-back and former Liverpool star Alex Greenwood, sending all the players into jubilation as they wheeled away.

United are second behind Reading on goal difference in Group Two North of the competition, which differs in format to the men’s League Cup, and will now face the Royals in their upcoming game next weekend in what will be the club’s very first official home game.

United Women will begin their league campaign on 9th September against Aston Villa in the FA Women’s Championship, the second tier of women’s football in England.

Given the plethora of stars in the squad, both established and emerging, the team, managed by former England captain Casey Stoney, is expected to earn immediate promotion to the top flight Super League, where the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool play.

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Brighton 3-2 Manchester United: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Seagulls Stun Red Devils

Brighton stunned Manchester United on the south coast as first half goals from Glenn Murray, Shane Duffy and a Pascal Gross penalty helped Chris Hughton’s side claim the victory.

The Seagulls were forced to do a lot of defending in the second half as United tried to find a way through to rectify a poor first half display. A very late Paul Pogba penalty cut the deficit but it wasn’t enough to avoid defeat at the Amex for the second season running. 

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Check out our breakdown of the game below. 


BRIGHTON 

Key Talking Point

After a bad display at Vicarage Road last Saturday, the fear of a cliched poor second season would have been ringing around the seaside club. 

But after their heroic output for the second season running against Manchester United, Hughton will feel his side are capable of retaining their Premier League status. Throughout the Brighton eleven, no player failed to put in a shift. 

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From the gyle and instinct of Glenn Murray to the physicality of Shane Duffy, Brighton fully earned their three points to the delight of the home support. 


Player Ratings 

Starting XI: Ryan (6), Montoya (5), Dunk (N/A), Duffy (7), Bong (7), Knockaert (7), Stephens (7), Propper (8), March (6), Gross (7), Murray (8).

Substitutes: Balogun (6), Kayal (N/A), Locadia (N/A).


STAR MAN – Brighton had some firepower in the first half up top, but it was Davy Pröpper’s determination in the heart of their midfield that proved crucial. 

His great tackling and continued interceptions were vital when Brighton had to defend deeper during periods of sustained possession for the visitors. Both Murray and Duffy weren’t far behind their teammate.


WORST PLAYER – It is harsh to point the finger at any of the Brighton players after a brilliant display, but Anthony Knockaert was prone to losing possession frequently.

Right back Bong had a few shaky moments and would’ve been relieved to see Martial go off after a few early runs at the defender. 


MANCHESTER UNITED

Key Talking Point

The point of Jose Mourinho’s frustration in the summer was the failure to strengthen in central defence. Against Brighton, all of the Portuguese’s fears came to fruition. 

Against inferior opposition, the defensive partnership of Bailly and Lindelof was woefully exposed. From Lindelof’s positioning for Brighton’s first to Bailly’s rash challenge for a penalty, it was a gallery of errors that gifted the Seagulls the win. 

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Even at full back, Luke Shaw struggled to deal with the pace of Anthony Knockaert for periods early on. For all of the frustrations surrounding Mourinho’s time at Old Trafford, a disorganised defence hasn’t been one of them and it cost his side dearly on Sunday.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: De Gea (5), Young (5), Lindelof (3), Bailly (3), Shaw (5), Fred (6), Pereira (6), Pogba (6), Mata (6), Lukaku (7), Martial (7).

Substitutes: Lingard (5), Rashford (6), Fellaini (5).


STAR MAN – There weren’t many bright sparks for Manchester United fans to savour, though captain Paul Pogba continued to get on the ball and tried to dictate play when there was a clear lack of movement in front of him. Also scored a penalty in added time, although it wasn’t enough.

Also credit to Lukaku, who had little service but was clinical with his goal.  

WORST PLAYER – Eric Bailly had a horror show at the Amex. The Ivorian endured a torrid opening half where he looked rash, unorganised and incompetent. 

The rash nature of his play that caused him to concede a penalty is simply unacceptable for a player at Manchester United. 

Fred continued to place wayward passes which broke United’s rhythm when they were trying to get back into the game. 


Looking Ahead

Brighton won’t have long to celebrate this win as they face a difficult trip to Anfield against Liverpool where they suffered a heavy defeat on the final day of last season. 

For Mourinho and Manchester United, its a mouth-watering clash with Tottenham, with the Red Devils under pressure to respond after a poor display. 

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Jose Mourinho Hits Out at ‘Classless’ Man City Over New Amazon Documentary Series

​​Manchester United manger José Mourinho has hit out at ​Manchester City over the new documentary charting their 2017/18 ​Premier League title winning season, claiming that his rivals ‘can’t buy class’.

Discussing the mini-series, via the Mirror, the Portuguese man o’ war launched a stinging attacking on the Citizens, given the less than complimentary tone the documentary takes to both him and his side. Mourinho said: “You know, a movie without me doesn’t sell much. I needed to be in there.

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“I haven’t seen it, but I know a few things about the movie. My reaction is if you are a rich club you can buy top players, but you cannot buy class. That is my first reaction. The second reaction is that, because I am in the movie, I could ask for some royalties.

“But if they send me one of the shirts they had in the tunnel when we played there, the shirts that were saying ‘We did it on Derby Day’. If they send me one of these shirts, I will give up about the royalties.”

The Amazon series features behind-the-scenes footage of the Citizens during their title winning campaign, offering a fly-on-the-wall look at the internal ongoings at the Etihad Stadium.

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In other news, ​United are rumoured to have joined the likes of City, Chelsea, and Barcelona in the race to sign Benfica wonderkid Ronaldo Camara. The 15-year-old has been impressing for the Portuguese under-17 international side, and is likely to be snapped up by a top European side in the near future.

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