Anthony Martial has to ‘buckle down’ if he has any chance of a future at Manchester United, says Red Devils legend Dwight Yorke.
The Frenchman scored his first goal of the season as he started against Everton last weekend (video below), but he has struggled for form in the last year. Last season Martial did suffer with injuries, but the 25-year-old still only managed seven goals in 36 appearances.
The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo has seen Martial start just twice since the Portugal international signed, prompting many to suggest his time at Old Trafford needs to come to an end in his seventh season with the club.
While Yorke believes Martial needs a good run of games to be given a fair chance this season, he admits big improvements are needed if he has a long-term future at the club.
“When you play for this club and you’re not doing the business and your form dips for whatever reason you’re going to be under scrutiny. He’s got to buckle down really if he has a future at this football club,” Yorke told Goal.
“He’s undoubtedly got immense talent and all the attributes we like to see in an attacking player and there’s no question he can be that vital player, but at the moment he’s not in the squad and he’s got to find a way to get back into the team.”
Aside from the 2019-20 season when he managed 23 goals, the France forward has struggled to hit the heights since signing for the club in 2015. He has only managed to register over 20 goals once in his six seasons at Old Trafford and that has rightly brought some criticism.
“He’s been a bit of a mixed bag to be fair. He had that one season when he was outstanding and he looked a serious threat, but I think he’s been unfairly treated in some way because I think that No. 9 role is a specialist role and you have to play that position week in, week out, to get familiarized with it,” Yorke said.
“When he first started off he started off on the left and then the right so he’s not really settled that much.
“He needs to be playing week in week out to really see the best of him. You can’t give him 10 or 20 minutes and expect him to be the finished article, it just doesn’t happen.”
A further obstacle to Martial’s game time has been the last-minute arrival of Ronaldo just before the transfer window closed. Solskjaer has been criticised for not starting the Portugal international in the 1-1 draw against Everton last weekend and it is unlikely he will start many more games on the bench.
Solskjaer has been keen to ensure his team doesn’t become too focused on Ronaldo, but with such a big name in the squad, it’s hard to get the attention away from him. But former Manchester United defender Wes Brown believes the team performance hasn’t suffered since his arrival.
“I think we can still see that it’s about the team. I don’t think it’s the case to just get the ball into Ronaldo,” Brown said at a Manchester United product launch event. “I think there will be total respect there for what he’s done and achieved and the standard he still brings to the club and the standard he brings to himself.
“Ultimately, the players are the ones trying to set him up, he’s playing that No. 9 spot, he’ll hold the ball up and be in the right spot but ultimately getting the ball to him is the job of all the other players.”
Yorke thinks Ronaldo’s arrival should be enough to force those around him to step up and deliver.
“The players have to step up to the plate and if you can’t buzz off that and feed off that energy and the high standard that he brings, then something must be wrong at the club,” Yorke added. “That’s what the players have to understand, they can’t always rely on him because yes he’ll have off days and people need to contribute, but when you have a special player like that in the team you get a buzz from it.”
Whether that buzz of Ronaldo’s arrival will rub off on Martial and help him push on this season, only time will tell.