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Anthony Martial has given Manchester United an unexpected problem

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Manchester United match-going fans would have been excused if they were a little rusty when serenading Anthony Martial after his strike against Everton before the international break.

“Tony Martial, he came from France,” the Old Trafford crowd echoed as the Frenchman wheeled away in celebration at his deflected effort beyond Jordan Pickford. “The English press said he had no chance, 50 million down the drain, Tony Martial scores again…”

The chant had genuine weight to it following his transfer from AS Monaco, but six years later Martial still remains somewhat of an enigma and a figure who divides a good chunk of United supporters.

His deflected effort in the draw with Everton was just Martial’s third goal in his last 25 matches — even that is a rather complimentary figure given two of those came in the 9-0 thumping of 10-man Southampton earlier in the year.

Now at the age of 25 he is far beyond being given the sympathy of youthful naivety and is instead expected to be delivering top-level performances on a weekly basis, something he has rarely done during his lengthy spell in Manchester.

Part of the issue is that Martial has always looked better playing from the left, the same wing where he terrorised Martin Skrtel and scored an iconic debut goal in victory over Liverpool.

Over the years he has played all across the front three and managed to find the net, though his best football has often been part of a fluid forward line, in particular the one with Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood after Project Restart in summer 2020.

Martial has also had to deal with falling down the pecking order at Old Trafford, so much so he is now only one of six different options available for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to fulfil the left wing role.

Rashford’s return from injury should see him awarded playing time on the wing, while Paul Pogba and summer signing Jadon Sancho both also favour the inverted attacking role.

Jesse Lingard is also revitalised competition for the spot while teenage star Anthony Elanga is another attacker who loves to cut inside onto his stronger foot in attack.

Despite the fierce competition, it is credit to Martial he has now outstayed both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho at United and has also remained at the club despite the influx of attacking talent that has come and gone around him.

Martial might remain a divisive figure, but he is still quite clearly rated by Solskjaer and is a player who the former striker seems to sympathise with a lot given his own dry-spells at the club.

His selection against Everton last time out was one of huge controversy yet it was credit to the charismatic Frenchman that he silenced his critics again and took the unexpected opportunity that came his way.

Rashford’s potential return this weekend will only add to the left wing problem, which remains unsolved, but after a goal in his last match it is surely only right to reward Martial after his crucial contribution.

Contrary to the iconic chant, Martial has been given a chance and during it he did everything he could to ensure he deserves another one.

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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