Anthony Martial, a Manchester United striker who has been underperforming, has come under fire from Gary Neville, who claims there is “no way” he should be leading the line for the team.
The injury-prone Frenchman was chosen to start Wednesday’s Carabao Cup match at Old Trafford against Newcastle, as the Red Devils suffered a humiliating loss to the Magpies’ B team 3-0 and were eliminated from the competition. Martial only scored nine goals in 29 games the previous season before being substituted in the 64th minute. Since then, he has made 13 appearances across all competitions without scoring. Neville criticizes the 27-year-old’s continued participation, saying it encapsulates how badly United has recruited. He even implies that Rasmus Hojlund, the summer arrival, has struggled because of the former Monaco striker’s lack of star quality.
Sometimes I ask myself the question, when you walk away from a broadcast like Sunday, thinking, “Are we being too harsh?”,’ said Neville on Sky Sports prior to kick-off on Wednesday night.
‘But when you hear that stat that a guy [Martial] has been at the club nine years, a goalscorer that cost £50 million, £60m, £70m, has scored basically 89 goals in nine years and we still can’t get him out the club, I don’t think we are being too harsh. I don’t think we’re being harsh enough.
‘The failings of the football department and recruitment is just absolutely incredible. They’re human beings at the end of the day and no one wants to go on the pitch, play badly and not achieve their standards. Nobody wants to be injured.
‘So I accept all those factors but the reality is there is no way he should still be leading the line at Man United in any competition, even the Carabao Cup.
‘It’s just where the club is at the moment, they don’t have a centre forward apart from the young lad Hojlund who I think has real promise but he needs experience alongside him.
‘I was saying before, if Hojlund came into Manchester United and his partner was Andy Cole or Dwight Yorke or Eric Cantona, I think you’d be seeing a sensation because the pressure would be off him.
‘But he’s come into the club and been asked to be the real thing and I feel for him a little bit. I don’t feel for Anthony Martial because he’s been here a long time.’
Asked about Martial, Cole himself – who was on punditry duty – said: ‘It’s a tough one.
‘He’s been here nine years and scored 89 goals. When you play centre forward at a club like Man United, that’s not enough goals.
‘He’s been given another opportunity today, and he could get goals but can he take Man United where they need to be? He’s been here nine years and not done it so it’ll be very difficult for him to do it now.’