Gary Neville: What drives me crazy about Anthony Martial at Man United

The Man United legend opens up about Anthony Martial's flaw at Old Trafford

The Sport Review staff
By The Sport Review staff
Man United striker Anthony Martial Photo: The Sport Review

Gary Neville has criticised Anthony Martial’s inability to time his runs in the Manchester United team.

The France international has been one of the Red Devils’ best players in the opening months of the Premier League season.

Martial was particularly prolific in October after the 22-year-old scored four goals in three games in the Premier League either side of the international break.

The Manchester United winger scored twice in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge before he won a penalty and got on the score sheet in a 2-1 victory over Everton last weekend.

While Martial has rediscovered his goal-scoring form in Jose Mourinho’s third season in charge, the Frenchman’s work-rate remains a point of contention for some pundits and supporters.

However, former Manchester United defender Neville, who won eight Premier League titles during his career, has admitted that he is infuriated by another aspect of Martial’s game.

“What drives me crazy about him is his off the ball work,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“I’m not talking about his defending, forget his defending. I’ve gone past the point of wide players generally coming back and doubling up and all that. What do they do going forward? The best players I played against as a right-back were better off the ball than they were on it. The runs in behind you, in between centre-back and full-back, were difficult to play against.”

Neville continued: “The best players I played against, they caught me. So as I was looking to see where the player was the minute I looked back towards the ball they would be gone. Martial doesn’t get that.

“He doesn’t know where to be and when to run at the right time. He hasn’t got any timing in his off the ball runs. What Martial tends to do is wait and wait and hangs wide. He needs to change that.”

Martial has struggled to match his return of 17 goals in his debut campaign, netting a combined times in his last two seasons under Mourinho.

But Neville believes Martial could see his goal haul swell if the French attacker was willing to put in the work off the ball.

“He has struggled to match his return of 17 goals in his debut campaign, netting a combined times in his last two seasons under Mourinho,” Neville added.

Martial has struggled to hold down a regular starting spot at Old Trafford in the past two seasons following the influx of talent at Manchester United since Mourinho took over the reins.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan occupied attacking roles in the 2016-17 season before Mourinho added Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in his second campaign.

Martial’s fortunes under Mourinho are in stark contrast to the opening months of his Old Trafford career when the French talent could do no wrong.

His patchy form at Manchester United cost the Manchester United number 11 a place in Didier Deschamps’s France squad for the World Cup.

Les Bleus managed to win their second World Cup title with Martial’s team-mate Paul Pogba getting on the score sheet in a 4-2 win over Croatia in the final.

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