Graeme Souness has likened Anthony Martial’s current position at Manchester United to that of former midfielder Paul Pogba, believing he can’t be relied upon to consistently perform for the club.
Martial, 26, appeared in line to start for the Red Devils in Erik ten Hag’s first game in charge over the weekend, having flourished in pre-season, but a muscular injury sustained in training last week rendered him unavailable for Sunday’s match.
As such, Ten Hag deployed an XI without a recognised centre-forward as they fell to an opening-day 2-1 defeat to Brighton at Old Trafford, intensifying the spotlight on the Dutchman after just one game in charge.
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Martial enjoyed something of a mini-resurgence over the summer after he was sent out on loan to Sevilla for the second half of last season, scoring in consecutive friendlies against Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace, but his absence on Sunday has provoked serious concern from Souness.
“Erik ten Hag had a good career at Ajax but managing at Ajax and managing at United are world’s apart,” Souness told talkSPORT.
“You’re looking to make an immediate impact but how do you do that? Unless you’ve got a special group of players coming through then you need to buy players.
“But they’ve not really recruited any game-changers. So now the manager is relying on players already there and you look at someone like Anthony Martial.
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“How many opportunities is that young man going to get to be a Manchester United player? He’s proven already to me he’s not for Man United.
“He can’t deal with the pressure of playing at Man United. It’s like Paul Pogba. In both of them I see real players, I see quality that few players possess.
“But it’s on their terms and they pick and choose when they use it. When you play for a big club you cannot be like that.
“When you are at a big club you play in a cup final every week. These players are not up for that, they’re not up for the fight.”
He continued: “It’s no good being a great player in training or being a great player once every six or seven games. You’re at a big club because you want to win things and want to be challenging all the time.
“With these players, you won’t. In basic terms, they are dodgy, they are not people you can rely on, end of.
“I don’t think you can rely on Martial anymore, not that you ever could. He’s been far too hit or miss.”