Paul Scholes believes Anthony Martial‘s poor performance against Brighton and Hove Albion stemmed from him not getting the ball enough from Paul Pogba.
The Frenchman, with the score at 0-0, received the ball early on and immediately burst past a defender, providing Manchester United with a sniff of where they could attack from.
But the balls out wide promptly stopped as Jose Mourinho’s defence melted in miserable fashion in the face of Brighton’s speed and physicality, and went in at half time 3-1 down.
Speaking after the game, Scholes hit out at Pogba – one of his favourite post-career pastimes – for not bringing Martial into the game.
“Lukaku can do it [win games],” he said. “Martial can do it. Martial, in that first half – what was he on for? 55 minutes? An hour? He got one ball down the left-hand side in the first half.”
“And he absolutely flew past the right-back. I can’t remember another time when you get the ball to him. As a midfield player for United, your job is to get the ball to your best players who can hurt [the opposition].
“But the Man United midfield players could never do it. They couldn’t get a ball in to Lukaku, they couldn’t get a ball in to Martial and they couldn’t get a ball in to [Marcus] Rashford when he came on.”
The gap between United’s midfield and its attack felt gargantuan at times, and it compounded the chaos at the back in the first half.
For whatever reason, nobody seemed able to find Romelu Lukaku or Martial in good positions, depriving themselves of the ability to hold the ball higher up the pitch. The result was an onslaught in the other direction.
Martial’s positional sense is not a strong point in his game. To succeed he always needs to be involved, to feel the ball at his feet. That is what Louis van Gaal put emphasis on. The defeat to Brighton, on the other hand, saw United – not just Pogba – fail to build attacks properly, thereby making it near impossible for the Frenchman to get the ball in a good position.
You would think this is something the manager would have emphasised on the training ground.