Criticisms continue because he fails to reach his potential. When Manchester United paid what was then the maximum fee in history to get a teenager to signal the Frenchman from Monaco in 2015, he seemed set to be a genuine superstar. A goal on debut indicated to United fans their new recruit was to attain massive things at Old Trafford.
Together with Marcus Rashford hurt, and Mason Greenwood too young for routine minutes up front, it’s up to Martial to direct Ole Gunnar Solskaer’s Red Devils via a crucial portion of their season. In 90 minutes against Wolves at the weekend, he managed six bits in the resistance box along with a total of zero shots.
In a game where new registering Bruno Fernandes embodied everything United have lacked, Martial was representative of those issues within the group.
“Fernandes is kind of this anti-Martial in certain ways,” ESPN’s senior soccer writer Gabriel Marcotti stated on Optus Sport’s The Headline Makers.
“Since we can debate whether he is worth it, but what guy has is character, confidence, an understanding of what the team needs, he was utterly unafraid to go and get the ball and take and get his teammates up.
“Personality-wise, he appears to be the reverse of Martial.”
While he’s again coming in for criticism, Martial is really enjoying one of his mathematically best seasons since coming at United.
In 19 appearances, he’s scored eight Premier League goals, his best ever tally for a campaign is 11, and his anticipated goals (xG) per 90 minutes statistic is the greatest it’s ever been (0.42 compared to 0.38 final season), meaning he’s been in better positions to score this term than any earlier.
He has also been engaged in a target every 141 minutes, a figure bettered by his campaign at 2017-18 (113 mins) and 2018-19 (135 mins) but surpassing his best scoring season in 2015-16 (175 mins) and 2016-17 (156 mins).
But, Martial has come in for major criticism this year, as United struggle. The most successful club at the Premier League history now sit in seventh on the table and have scored only 36 times in 25 matches. In contrast, both Liverpool and Manchester City have discovered the web 60 or more times.
But with Rashford outside for many months with a back injury, the burden falls on Martial. With their deadly tandem separated, the Frenchman and United, on the whole, have failed to score in three successive league games for the first time since 2014 in their first games with no 22-year-old.
“It’s (,unacceptable), but to an extent, strikers are reliant on support,” Optus Sport columnist Daniel Storey stated on The Headline Makers.
“I think it’s as straightforward as this; when he (Martial) plays Marcus Rashford, Manchester United are a far better and more dangerous group.
“They have played 17 games this year, and just those two players have scored 22 goals in those 17 games. That’s a fantastic record for any club.”
“But in case you simply rely on having two senior strikers over the course of a year, do not be surprised when a) one of them breaks down because he is still young and his body is still growing and then if you’re without that striker do not be surprised if you struggle to score goals.”
Really, when Martial happens to the area without Rashford, his output drops considerably. That is a goal every 333 minutes, instead of 213 across his entire Premier League career.
While a goal participation every 178 minutes also comes in lower than his overall amount of one every 144 minutes. So, without Rashford, and some other truly powerful support, is it really any wonder that his output has been poor lately?
“If I am defending who do I need to be worried about? Oh, it is just that Martial man.
“Daniel James is not going to score and go against me, and I believe that makes it even tougher for him.”
“I think Martial should play whether from a wide position or with somebody who is going to cut within the manner Rashford used to perform, with another striker.
“Maybe he did not want to play Mason Greenwood, he does not need to give him a lot of moments, but it goes back to team building in the summer.
“Sell all of your strikers and that is what you’re left with.”
Goals aside, it seems a consensus that the biggest frustration with Martial lately has been a perceived casualness in his play.
The attacker is constantly criticised for his own body language, while his lack of movement up front, in particular, was a source of aggravation for former United midfielder Paul Ince in the aftermath of his poor showing against Wolves.
“I believe Martial, he is one of these confidence gamers,” former Premier League striker Adam Le Fondre told Optus Sport’s GegenPod.
“When he is high on confidence (he’s ) unbelievable, unstoppable. Out on the left, cutting, can’t stop him.
“At the moment, (the ball is) bouncing him off like a park railing. He just doesn’t look like a No. 9 for me. With dash players, you tend to find that, where they could be a little languid then burst into existence, that is why you love them because they have the x-factor.
“Martial definitely has that and I am one of his biggest fans. I adore him, I think he is a wonderful player, but you just want more from him.
“You want to have more consistency. He is getting 24 today, you would like to start seeing him enter the prime of his career and begin fulfilling his potential.”
The coming of Odion Ighlo on loan from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua supplies Solskjaer with another real strike option, but with Rashford sidelined for another few months, Martial will almost surely be entrusted with spearheading United’s attack.
Four years after joining one of the world’s largest clubs on the planet at his feet, the Frenchman remains a work in progress.
It’s already off to a bad start.