Manchester United succumbed to their first loss in five games when they suffered a disappointing 0-1 defeat at the hands of Real Sociedad in their Europa League opener.
The game was a mundane affair, decided by a controversial penalty decision which was upheld by VAR, raising further questions of its credibility.
The only silver lining from the setback will be the fact that Erik ten Hag will now know more about his squad and who he can trust going forward.
Christian Eriksen was yet again United's best player but he cannot play every minute. While Anthony Martial is best at hold up and link up but cannot remain fit.
United missed the trick by not signing another progressive midfielder and a striker. https://t.co/gLuI2pfQkW
— United Info (@allutdinfo) September 8, 2022
And according to medical expert Ben Dinnery, who runs the Premier Injuries site, the Dutch manager might be playing mind games with the media with regards to Martial’s availability.
ETH playing Martial mind games
The French striker, who had a brilliant pre-season, last played for the club against Liverpool during which he provided the assist for the winner.
An Achilles injury suffered in training has meant the Frenchman has missed all the subsequent games including the Real Sociedad tie.
“There are a few ways you can take this. First and foremost, we don’t know a lot about how Ten Hag handles the media and the updates he provides. He certainly hasn’t been forthcoming on a lot of players with regards to their absence from the squad.
“There could be some mind games, some smoke and mirrors. Ten Hag may have a very good idea of when Martial will return but doesn’t want to tell us. That is definitely a possibility,” he told Football Insider.
Fans will be hoping that is indeed the case and the former Monaco star can make a quick return as his overall link-up play in the striker’s role can bring out the best of United’s forwards.
Due to the Queen’s death, football games might get postponed and that might allow Martial time to recover and get back into Ten Hag’s plans for the upcoming games.