Ten Hag backs Anthony Martial to step up to replace the injured Marcus Rashford against Sevilla

50
0

Erik ten Hag has claimed Manchester United play their best football with Anthony Martial in the team as he backed the Frenchman to step up and fill the void left by the injured Marcus Rashford.

Martial, who has struggled with problems relating to his hip, hamstring, back and Achilles this term, is ready to start against Sevilla on Thursday in a Europa League quarter-final if called upon, with Casemiro also available having not played for a month through suspension.

Ten Hag thought about giving Martial the nod for last weekend’s victory over Everton, instead introducing him from the bench to seal the points.

The strike was the 27-year-old’s second goal since December, only featuring on seven occasions in that time, and Ten Hag was bullish about how much he offers this team as they still hunt two more trophies. The issue has been keeping the Frenchman fit, because United have won on all of Martial’s nine starts this season.

‘You say that I defended him but I just point to the stats,’ the United boss said. ‘The stats are telling you that when he’s on the pitch, the time he needs for a goal is less [than others].

‘When he is in the team, and I refer to games against Man City and Liverpool [in August], we play our best football and get the best results as a team. I see how he contributes to this team.’

It sounds like the time has come for Martial to step back into the limelight, against the club who took him on loan when he had fallen out of Ralf Rangnick’s plans last year.

With one goal in 12 appearances over in Spain – losing to West Ham United in Europe – Sevilla were not pushing to splash out on him last summer. In a way, he has a point to prove to them as well.

‘We don’t have to force things [with Martial] – we are careful,’ Ten Hag added. ‘The advantage is we can bring Anthony Martial slowly back but in the team, give him minutes, get him used to the game at the highest level, to high intensity.

‘I have to say the frontline against Brentford and Everton worked really well. I think continually we were a threat. It was difficult to defend for the opponent.’ Antony was of course part of that but has fielded criticism of his end product and is still searching for a first league goal since October.

‘He has to work on that,’ Ten Hag said. ‘But he scored a really important goal against Real Betis and the winner against Barcelona. You cannot say they are not big games.

‘He can also do it in Premier League. I have no concerns. He has to step up.. He likes challenges. When he is in the team, it is winning.’

Man United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Malacia; Sabitzer, Casemiro; Antony, Fernandes, Sancho; Martial.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here