Anthony Martial’s return from injury will be a rejuvenating factor for Manchester United as we approach the season’s run-in.
That’s the view of the panel on this week’s episode of The Debate, which is available to watch in full now.
Former United players Ben Thornley and David May were joined by journalists Laurie Whitwell and James Robson to pick over the bones of Sunday’s defeat at Newcastle, where Martial came on as a substitute to make his first appearance after a two-month absence.
The Frenchman will now look to figure in this week’s home matches against Brentford and Everton, which were also points of discussion, as we hope to regain our position in the Premier League’s top four after dropping to fifth following recent results.
“He’s undoubtedly going to be an asset,” said Thornley.
“He’s obviously a completely different player to Wout Weghorst and the more games we play and the more chances he has, the more likely it is that he’s going to integrate himself into that front three and start scoring goals.”
Martial’s campaign has been blighted by injury, which has prevented him from making a sustained impact. But in the 15 games he has managed to play, the Frenchman has scored six goals and two assists.
Thornley wants to see him in Ten Hag’s XI more regularly from here on in, with the Europa League quarter-finals and an Emirates FA Cup semi-final at Wembley also looming on the horizon.
“It’s a shame that he hasn’t been [fit] going back to the start of the season,” said the former winger.
“You forget that Anthony Martial has – bar Luke Shaw and David De Gea – been here longer than any other player we’ve got and you’re perhaps still waiting for him to produce that season that is a real eye-opener.
“One of the best things he’s ever done in a United shirt is the first thing he ever did, when he scored that fabulous goal against Liverpool.
“I just don’t feel as though he’s ever hit that consistency where we’ve seen that on a regular basis, season after season. I think from here on in though, he now has to be in the starting line-up right the way up until the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, May pointed out that Martial could help share the workload in terms of goals.
Marcus Rashford is way out in front as our top scorer this season with a tally of 27 in all competitions.
“Martial is brilliant at times,” said May, who will be part of our live radio commentary team for the Brentford game tonight.
“He can be unplayable and that could be the spark that hopefully would rejuvenate everybody.
“The team has relied so much on Marcus scoring goals, so if you could have someone else in there, like Martial, who is an unbelievable player, then all well and good.”