Manchester United forward Anthony Martial looks like a completely different player this season compared to last.

By 90Min
September 18, 2017

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial looks like a completely different player this season compared to last, with his patchy form in 2016/17 leading many to believe the Frenchman wouldn't have much time left at Old Trafford.

He hasn't been a regular starter, but Martial has made sure he is at the forefront of Jose Mourinho's mind after scoring three times and bagging an assist in four substitute appearances.

For Martial, those three goals have come in five total Premier League games this season. It took the 21-year-old exactly half of last season (19 games) to score his previous three league goals.

It is a remarkable turnaround in form for a player who seemed to have lost his way and there are perhaps a number of reasons for his re-emergence.

Mourinho is not the easiest personality to work with. By his own admission, the Portuguese coach likes to test his players. He wants the strongest characters in his team and pushing the limits is his way of establishing who he can rely upon and place his trust in.

Marcus Rashford responded well to that last season, but Martial didn't. It is only now, just over a year into Mourinho's tenure, that he seems to be getting to grips with it a little better.

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Another reason Martial may be performing better now is that his personal life seems to finally be settling down. Last season he was going through a messy break-up with his ex-wife that involved plenty of very public 'point scoring' through social media.

The stress associated with that cannot have helped his ability to perform on the pitch.

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Perhaps he has grown up a little too and is now a more mature individual. There have never been any doubts about his talent since he joined United in an initial £36m deal in 2015, but there were times in his second season when he give the impression of acting like a sulking child.

If he's learned how to better hold himself and has a more mature outlook on whatever situations he may be greeted with, on or off the pitch, that may also be partly responsible for why 2017/18 has so far been pleasantly different. 

There was certainly a maturity in the way that he took the ball to convert from the spot after winning a penalty in the closing stages of Sunday's game.

Lastly, the same pressure and expectation hasn't really been there. Martial flourished in his debut year at United when relatively little was known about him. He was just a teenager at the time and had been earmarked as 'one for the future', only to grab the opportunity there and then.

It meant that by the time his 'sophomore season' rolled around, fans actually did expect. Martial failed to deliver on a consistent basis, though, and that expectation has since worn off to the point where he is now able to thrive in a more relaxed environment once more.

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