Three reasons for Anthony Martial's sudden increase in form
Original photo: Дмитрий Голубович, CC-by-SA-3.0
Ever since Manchester United pulled off an emphatic comeback from 2-0 down against Newcastle to win 3-2, there has been something brewing at the club. Since then the Old Trafford outfit has mounted comebacks in three of their last five matches with the driving force being none other than Anthony Martial.
Since the Frenchman's goal against the Magpies, he has been in outstanding form, scoring five goals in just four Premier Leagues matches and with Martial putting in yet another venomous performance for United in their surprising 2-1 comeback over Juventus, I take a look at three reasons behind the Frenchman's newfound form.
A consistent run of games
It was the beginning of this very year when Martial was being given a consistent run of games and was starting to show the form he had promised in his first season as a 19-year-old wonderkid from Monaco. Then enter the January transfer window and with it, the highly sought after Alexis Sanchez.
With the Chilean's arrival, Martial was shifted out to the right side of the forward line in order to accommodate Sanchez. Playing out of position, it was no surprise that Martial effectiveness soon waivered, eventually culminating in his exclusion from the team altogether.
Eleven months later, Mourinho could no longer explain away the terrible form of Sanchez and Martial was once again given a chance to prove his worth. With a few games under his belt, the Frenchman has begun to justify his early comparisons with a certain Thierry Henry. Martial's tally of 5 goals this season makes him United’s top scorer so far...
A more attacking Manchester United
Eleven games into last seasons Premier League campaign United had already amassed 8 clean sheets. Eleven games into this season, however, and that stat stands at just one. Many suggested a lack of a centre-back signing could be a possible reason, however recent comments from Jose Mourinho suggest otherwise.
During his Bournemouth post-match interview, Jose told reporters:
“Because the approach was much more defensive (last season) and with a much more defensive approach you can hide better your weaknesses. So when the team is really defensive and you have a more defensive mind then you base the work on that. Then the team doesn’t develop enough in other areas, but the team managed to get results based on that.”
He then added:
“I’m trying to find a balance where we develop the team in the second and first phase of attack and we develop the talented players that we have without losing the balance.”
Anthony Martial is clearly benefiting from the Portuguese’ newfound affection for attacking football as accompanying Jose's shift in mentality is Martial’s form. The Frenchman isn't a player that likes to track back, preferring to remain further forward to be available on the break and perhaps Jose affording him that extra bit of freedom has contributed to his recent flurry of goals.
Completely focused on football
During his first season in charge, Mourinho said Martial seemed like his head was often in the clouds and was unable to focus in training.
This was likely due to a messy breakup Martial endured with childhood sweetheart and mother of his first child, Samantha, during that time. This season, however, we have seen a much happier Martial who has had time to move past his personal issues and once again refocus on football.
A now thawed once frosty relationship with Jose Mourinho isn't doing anyone any harm either. During the summer it was reported that Martial was fined after failing to return to United’s tour of the United States of America.
The Frenchman has recently refuted claims of tension between him and the United boss saying:
“Things were not tense between us, to begin with, we have a player-coach relationship and I hope that we will continue like that and bring Manchester United as much as possible.”
Mourinho has also had a change in attitude toward Martial in recent weeks recently citing how Martial has gotten better at reading the game, putting him on the edge of becoming a top performer.
The sun is once again rising on Martial’s time in Manchester and with United taking on cross-town rivals Manchester City this coming Sunday, the forward will hope to continue his rich vein of form and fire the Red Devils to a third consecutive victory in the Premier League.