Will Anthony Martial leave Manchester United? Is Mourinho to blame?
What are your thoughts on the situation then? Martial looks to be leaving the club, is it the right decision?
Hesham: I still am not 100% sure he leaves just yet because we’ve put such a high price tag on him and Woodward rates him very highly. If he does leave, there’s no way you can spin it to call it the right decision when every football fan can see what Martial is capable of.
However, the blow can be softened if the deal was used to get someone like Thiago in the process (if we sold abroad to Bayern) and also get a young right winger to add new excitement.
I'm sure you've seen the MEN article suggesting his Utd career could be over. Who do you blame for this situation? Mourinho will of course take some blame but is Martial totally innocent himself?
Hesham: Martial is not totally innocent no because now with the World Cup over, he should see the bigger picture that he can outlast the manager at United and fight for his place in the side. They’ll always be injuries when the manager doesn’t want to make changes which means he would’ve always had a chance to make it in the side too, particularly as we’ve failed to sign a winger.
Mourinho has to take the predominant blame though, he’s ostracised one of United’s best young talents and failed to make the most of him despite someone like him needed in the attacking trio or quartet.
The Manchester United fan base do seem to be really divided at the moment, could the sale of Anthony Martial tip things over the edge against Mourinho?
Hesham: I don’t think so. Think both the Mourinho doubters and Mourinho loyalists already have their minds set, the football will dictate everything no matter how negative a tone the manager sets, the football always has the final say.
He has to make us more exciting to watch and competitive for the league but many do doubt that will happen.
Can't quite remember there being such a negative atmosphere around the club before the start of a season. How can United fix this? Would keeping Martial uplift the mood despite his insistence on leaving?
Hesham: Think I sum it up in this piece I did last week:
Essentially we need to make 2-3 key signings to strengthen obvious weaknesses first and foremost. Martial staying would help profusely no doubt. Then perhaps showing something exciting in pre season games to show the season isn’t going to be doom and gloom once again.
Hypothetically, let's say Alderweireld and either Rebic/Willian come in. Would you class that as a good transfer window?
Hesham: Not particularly no. The main problem this window perceived by many was left back, so Sandro would’ve been the key signing or someone of that ilk.
Alderweireld is absolutely class no doubt, would improve the defence massively. Rebic and Willian both aren’t the requisite standard United should be aiming for, neither hit double figures with goals last season and they’ll struggle even more in Jose’s set up. They need someone with something special, neither Willian or Rebic would provide that on the wing.
Finally, hand on heart do you see Anthony Martial leaving? And do you believe United fans will stick behind Jose?
Hesham: Yes sadly, his desperation for guaranteed first team football combined with his grudge against the manager makes it a likely ending. The only way it won’t happen is if the club can’t find a replacement in time or if the buying club don’t offer us enough money, so we can have some hope the Frenchman stays.
Depends what Jose does, if it’s more of the same drab football as last term, there’s no chance the fans unite behind him again. All about how Jose shows a new side with exciting football and a competitive spirit which looks unlikely at this stage given his negative manner around the club and pre-season performances thus far.
Just a final quick note on Mourinho, understandably a lot of fans will be frustrated with him at the moment. But all of this behaviour is nothing new when it comes to Jose, it's something that the club knew about before and it's case of they knew what they were getting in to. In terms of results Jose actually delivered United's best domestic campaign since 2013. On top of that, it was the first time post-Fergie that United secured back-to-back CL qualification. Do you think maybe a bit of context is needed when it comes to the manager? Shouldn't the club be held equally responsible or if not more responsible?
Is Mourinho to blame?
Hesham: The second place finish masked a lot of problems and hid major flaws. The context would actually reflect badly on him. As my piece illustrated for instance, De Gea had to make many more saves than the previous season which shows he single-handedly saved United’s blushes. Without him things could have looked a lot worse. We scored the least amount of goals in the Top 6 as well, so the football was really cumbersome and at times worse than what Van Gaal subjected us to.
The club have given him big resources in the first two seasons and he failed to use them properly. He spent £70m on centre backs but still prefers the pairing Jones-Smalling, he’s never even played Lindelof with Bailly in a single game. He wasted Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s talent after a season and he still doesn’t know how to get the best out of record signing Paul Pogba.
Are we yet to see the best of Paul Pogba?
The club I feel is reluctant to sanction major funds right now because of those shortcomings, but Ed Woodward and co will have to shoulder the blame for failing to negotiate on top players this window still for sure.
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