Before Manchester United’s dour 1-1 draw against Southampton, there was another performance elsewhere that caught the eye of supporters, albeit for the right reasons. And Anthony Martial’s impact for Sevilla was in stark contrast to another Old Trafford disappointment.
Fans are holding out hope of a summer rebuild at United and there has been plenty of speculation over which areas the club will target to strengthen in a transfer window where Ralf Rangnick is expected to assume his consultancy position.
MEN Sport reported in January that up to four new signings could arrive at United in the summer and while the identity of those players remains a mystery it is understood a midfielder features highly on the list of positions United are ready to bolster.
While fans have been crying out for that position to be strengthened, Rangnick brought up another area where United needed strengthening in his pre-match press conference for the Southampton game.
The position he highlighted was striker.
With Edinson Cavani set to leave at the end of the season and Cristiano Ronaldo now at the age of 37, it’s pretty obvious that United are going to need a new number nine at the lower end of the age scale. But there are not a plethora of world-class strikers in their prime available and the criteria appears to center on lowering the age profile for whichever striker is recruited.
“This is obvious [United needing a striker],” said Rangnick of the situation.
“Edinson’s contract is running out in the summer and the club needs the best possible centre-forward. I think everyone is aware of that.”
While Rangnick was the one who came out and spoke of United’s need for a new striker, it’s looking increasingly likely that he isn’t going to be the one coaching whoever arrives.
Rangnick is only meant to be staying as interim manager until the end of the season and although he’ll have a say in who that striker is working on the technical side of the club, any decision reached will need to be made in agreement with the next permanent manager.
One name who’s been constantly linked with the position is PSG manager, Mauricio Pochettino, and MEN Sport understands that United players want the Argentine to become the next permanent coach.
If he does come, United’s need to recruit an elite striker may lessen to a degree because Pochettino has a reported liking towards Martial, who proved he still has something to offer with his performance for Sevilla on Friday night.
Having endured a difficult debut in a 0-0 draw at Osasuna, Martial looked more like the striker United fans have pined for by playing a key creative role in a 2-0 win over Elche on Friday night.
Martial played an influential part in Papu Gomez’s opener against Elche before his sensational delivery was met by Rafa Mir to cut the gap to three points (it has since become four) behind Real Madrid in the race for the La Liga title.
If Martial continues to flourish at Sevilla, it is not completely beyond the realms of possibility that he could be called back, and if Pochettino becomes United’s next manager, his career could yet be resurrected in a red shirt.
Pochettino was the one who wanted Martial at Tottenham when the player was shining in a Monaco shirt. He also wanted him when he was beginning to fall out of favor under Jose Mourinho back in 2018.
Just like you, we can’t get enough of Manchester United! That’s why we’ve decided to supplement our expansive United coverage on the Manchester Evening News with a more fan-oriented platform catered specifically to United fans – United On My Mind.
Writers and presenters who share your passion for the red side of Manchester will be producing written, visual and audio content to reflect the mood in the stands as well as the press box.
Martial has all the attributes that Pochettino covets in a player too. The Argentine has traditionally shown a penchant for technically-gifted players, coming through his signings of Lionel Messi, Son Heung-Min, Lucas Moura, Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele.
The 49-year-old could therefore reignite Martial’s career if he shows similar trust in him. We already know he’s a player that needs support to increase his confidence levels and if Pochettino provides him with everything he needs, there’s still a chance he could rediscover the kind of verve that gradually drifted from his game at United.
Of course, the preference is for United to go out and purchase the No.9 who takes this club up to a level but failure to finish in the top four would make that task more difficult without Champions League riches. Pochettino’s prospective arrival could be just what Martial needs to reboot a United career that has been allowed to stall.
Could Martial shine under Pochettino? Follow our United On My Mind writer omar garrick on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.