Saturday was a good day for Manchester United supporters. After a poor showing against Liverpool and a shocking defeat to Huddersfield, the Old Trafford faithful were able to witness a victory. The 1-0 scoreline against Spurs would have been incomplete if not for the efforts of Anthony Martial, whose 81st-minute goal proved to be the winner.
However, it is interesting to note that the spirited Frenchman was not in the starting lineup, and had instead come off the bench for Marcus Rashford in the 70th minute. In fact, it appears that he performs best when he comes off the bench.
This is supported by statistics. In the 6 instances that he has been subbed on, Martial has found the back of the net 4 times. All of them decisively, despite one being a penalty. But when Mourinho has included him in the starting eleven, which he has only thrice so far this season in the Premier League, the youngster has failed to score even once.
In fact, United’s splendid form in the last ten minutes of play has been heavily due to Martial, in terms of both goals and assists. The hallowed presence is certainly reminiscent of the glory days of the previous years, where the Redshirts marched to goal to earnest shouts of ‘attack-attack’ from supporters.
This does bring into question whether or not Mourinho must give him the spot week in and week out. The choice of Rashford starting has been beneficial for the side too, with the academy graduate proving to be amongst the finest players on the pitch against Spurs.
But the dilemma will go deeper than just that. Despite scoring goals and being instrumental in victories, Martial is bound to desire more. While his performance off the bench can prove to be akin to that of Dimitar Berbatov, in the modern game, time on the pitch might trump everything else.
Written by Naveen Kelvin
A writer trying to craft the poetry within football. Purpose in life is to Make Good Art.