Every time I see a United team sheet recently, this is pretty much my reaction,
The reason for this reaction? The exclusion of our best player, Anthony Martial. He has been in and out of the team all season and it seems to have gotten worse since Christmas. The really frustrating thing about all of this is that Mourinho seems to be singling him out for critisicm and holding him to a far higher standard than everyone else in the squad.
Here are a few Jose Mourinho quotes on Martial over the past few weeks.
“You have one opportunity, you have two, you have three – if you don’t bite then somebody comes and takes the bait” – 25th November 2016
“Anthony has to listen to me and not his agent. He has to listen to me.” – 1st January 2017
“He didn’t catch with both hands a big opportunity he had.” 25th January 2017
“He has done enough to be on the bench.” 31st January 2017
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Regarding that last comment about doing enough to “be on the bench”, he said that in the aftermath of the Wigan game and before the Hull game. Prior to the Wigan game, Mourinho said that Martial would start against Hull if he played “amazingly”.
Well, he got two assists and had a perfectly good goal disallowed and he still didn’t start the next game. Worse still, Mourinho started going on about how Mkhitaryan was ahead of him and as a result, Martial had “done enough to be on the bench”.
The thing is, they both started the game against Wigan but only Mkhitaryan lined up against Hull. It was not Mkhitaryan who replaced Martial, but Rashford. What had Rashford done to warrant taking Martial’s place?
It doesn’t matter that Rashford’s numbers, in every measurable way, are worse than Martial’s this season. It doesn’t matter that Rashford runs the ball out of play every single game and looks like a headless chicken, he has well and truly taken Martial’s place. He has started the last 3 games in a row and done almost nothing. Martial assists two and gets dropped for several games on end. It makes no sense.
On top of that, you’ve got two untouchables in Pogba and Zlatan who are the first names on the team sheet regardless of form and prior performances. Pogba has been abysmal since Christmas and had the worst collective performance of any United player this season against Liverpool.
Zlatan can plod around the pitch for 90 minutes and do absolutely nothing but he’s still guaranteed to start the next game. While I don’t like the thought of having untouchables in the squad, I can understand it at the same time. Pogba, while being terrible for weeks, is capable of brilliance and winning a game as we saw at Middlesbrough. While Zlatan isn’t doing much of anything if he isn’t scoring, he has found the net 20 times already this season.
What I can’t understand though is why these two get a free pass in the hope of what they “may” do and Martial not only doesn’t get this kind of treatment, but needs a 10/10 performance just to start the next game. As far as I’m concerned, Martial is the most talented player in the squad and is more than capable of being one of the best players in the world.
We all saw what he was capable of last season so if anyone should be getting a free pass in the hope of what they may be able to do, it’s Martial. My paranoia in this situation is being fuelled by Morinho’s track record with young players who he’s let go and have gone on to be superstars once they left, De Bruyne and Lukaku being the most obvious two.
There’s even talk amongst fans of Martial becoming a “sacrificial lamb” in Mourinho’s attempt to stamp out insubordination and install a “winning mentality” back into the squad. Well I’m putting this on record right now. If Martial leaves in the summer I will never forgive Mourinho. Even if he goes on to win the league, I will never take to him and I know of several fans who feel the same.
There’s been constant talk of him leaving over the past couple of months and Martial himself responded with this tweet the other day.
Dont listen the papers it's wrong thanks Come on United 🔴
— Anthony Martial (@AnthonyMartial) February 6, 2017
I would take these words with a pinch of salt. If Mourinho continues to freeze him out the way he has been doing, I would be amazed if Martial sees out the summer and if he walks out of the door, he will be taking my support for Mourinho with him. As I said in the past, I wanted Mourinho to take charge and was glad when the club got rid of LVG so that they could get him, but getting rid of one of the world’s best young players as part of a stupid mind game is unacceptable.