Garth Crooks believes Anthony Martial is the latest whipping boy at Manchester United, despite a recent upward form in front of goal.
The 24-year-old French forward was on the scoresheet again as the Red Devils ran out 3-0 winners against Watford over the weekend.
How has Martial fared so far this season? Five key things to know…
- The 2019/20 season is Anthony Martial’s fifth campaign at Man Utd.
- He joined in 2015 with Louis van Gaal at the helm and famously scored on debut against Liverpool.
- Martial’s goal against Watford on matchday 27 was his 10th league goal this season.
- It’s the third team he’s reached double figures in a Premier League season.
- Martial’s best return is 11 which he achieved in his debut campaign (2015/16).
It was the first time this season that Martial has scored in three consecutive games across all competitions, having also found the net in United’s 2-0 win at Chelsea and 1-1 Europa League draw with Club Brugge to take his total tally to 15, with 10 coming in the Premier League.
His 10 goals puts him only behind Marcus Rashford in the race to be United’s top scorer, although the England international has missed their last five league games as he recovers from a back injury, with his 14 strikes coming in 22 games.
Despite being productive, Martial has been unable to shake off stern criticism with many observers feeling he’s not fulfilling his potential, now in his fifth season at Old Trafford following a move from Monaco in 2015.
Since moving to Manchester, he’s managed 44 goals across 134 league appearances, but Martial hasn’t always played as a centre-forward with various coaches using him across the forward line and even playing behind the number nine.
Crooks, who saw Martial net for United against the Hornets, feels he’s taken up the role Romelu Lukaku vacated when the Belgian marksman swapped English football for Inter Milan last summer as the target for criticism.
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“Make no mistake, Martial seems to have taken over from former striker Romelu Lukaku as United’s whipping boy,” he wrote on BBC Sport.
“The France forward may be slightly temperamental, but he can play. If United fans want to get the best out of him, their boo-boys need to treat him with care.”
‘Fernandes could be the answer’
Someone the United faithful have been enjoying of late is January signing Bruno Fernandes, who scored his first goal for the club in their win over Watford.
Fernandes, who grabbed an assist against Chelsea as his ball from corner headed in by Harry Maguire, netted from the spot – a calm penalty he’d also won.
He wasn’t done there either, as Fernandes was also involved in Mason Greenwood’s strike and Crooks feels he’s not only fast-becoming a fan favourite but solving their penalty taking conundrum.
“Since the injury to striker Rashford and the prolonged absence of midfielder Paul Pogba, United have had problems with penalty-takers, but Fernandes could be the answer,” he added.
“There is also a developing relationship between Fernandes and the fans, which is hardly surprising. They know a top-class player when they see one.”