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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Martial might have confirmed Erik ten Hag’s transfer intentions vs Wolves

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Ahead of kick-off at Molineux on Saturday, Rio Ferdinand questioned whether Anthony Martial would be happy with his Manchester United career to date. “I’d love to find out from him, is he satisfied with what he’s doing in a Man United shirt?” he mused. “His Man United career, is Martial happy with what he’s achieved? I hope he is not happy because there’s so much more.” Martial would have indeed trudged down the tunnel at full-time against Wolves less than pleased with his performance after failing to show this added extra bit. The striker only managed to muster two shots at goal throughout the match, both off-target. READ MORE:Three United players could return vs Bournemouth He was dispossessed or provided poor control on five occasions and only had 33 touches before his 80th-minute exit, the fewest out of any outfield starting player who began the second half. Now, that is partly down to the nature of his central position but naughty boy turned match-winner Marcus Rashford only had ten fewer touches than Martial after coming on at half-time. Fred, who came on in the 60th minute, also provided more (34). Martial is yet to see out a 90 minutes this season (Image: Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images) That said, context is needed. Martial has been plagued by injury this season, having suffered three separate setbacks. Despite this, he has five goals in 10 appearances, having also grabbed two assists. It’s really not a bad return. It must also be remembered where he found himself 12 months ago. After featuring just 11 times in the first half of last season, Martial secured a loan move to Sevilla where he also similarly underwhelmed. Overcast by another injury picked up in Spain, he finished his short-term spell with the Spaniards with just one goal in 12 outings. It led to his future at Old Trafford being left in doubt. But Erik ten Hag put his faith in the attacker, who netted three times in pre-season. Martial’s transformation under the Dutchman has been staggered due to his injuries, but it’s very much noticeable. However, it seems clear United need more firepower at the top end of the pitch. After Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit, Martial is the only natural number nine at the club. Rashford is the team’s top scorer with 11 goals this season but none of them have come while leading the line, which he has done on seven occasions. After missing a team meeting due to oversleeping, the England star was dropped for the first-half against Wolves, leaving Martial to bear the weight of responsibility. He failed to put in a showing that would sway Ten Hag from his stance that a striker is needed this month, and perhaps reaffirmed it. Martial has produced the goods when United have had their back against the wall before – his goal against Omonia and his brace versus Manchester City showed this. His assist against a high-pushing Liverpool should also be noted. But on each occasion he had ample support and sufficient service. Alejandro Garnacho and Antony had disappointing performances against Wolves and the former was replaced by Rashford at half-time. When isolated, Martial is not the match-winner – which an asset Ten Hag needs in his squad in United’s pursuit of a top four place. His injury record is a concern and United, currently fourth, cannot afford to play Rashford as a striker in his absence, which is the only conceivable option available to him at the moment should that happen. Worse still, should Rashford be unavailable, Martial’s sole frontline impact may not be enough. Those chasing Champions League football must have a forward in their ranks who can produce moments of magic that can win games. Martial is yet to show he is that man on a consistent basis after seven-and-a-half years. A fresh asset is undoubtedly needed. READ NEXT: Gakpo makes United admission after Liverpool move United have already found their Ronaldo replacement Casemiro has proven Roy Keane and Scholes wrong Rashford has answered Roy Keane’s concerns Manchester United news homepage Story SavedYou can find this story in  My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.

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