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“Anthony Martial’s Nine-Year Drought: A Symbol of Manchester United’s Woes”

Lack of interest. During November. That is the mindset of Manchester United supporters.

There are no longer any unexpected losses. As the supporters enter the stadium, resignation is written all over their faces. These days, no side is too little to win at Old Trafford, especially if the opposition is defeated before the players ever take the field.

The mental state of United supporters on Wednesday night was captured in one moment. With a sixth home loss in ten games this season—a worst run since 1930—already behind him, the reaction to Anthony Martial’s substitution was as astonishing as you could see in any sports arena as he strolled off, having not moved beyond walking pace in eight years.

Fans frequently jeer at a player being substituted, cheer when a struggling star leaves, or applaud when a young upstart steps onto the stage and finally puts one of the many struggling leading actors to rest, especially in the Theatre of Nightmares this season.

Wednesday was an odd sight because all three of them were present at the same time and were linked by spasms of laughter. The only thing missing from the comedy would have been some flying rotting veggies. After doing almost nothing for Manchester United over his nine seasons there, nobody can quite believe Martial is still a player for the club.

Supporters have the world’s once most expensive teenager to provide a perfect summation of just where their team are at – a wonderfully gifted, overpriced footballer who simply isn’t interested and is happy to underperform, knowing full well his well-serviced career in English football can continue in an environment where mediocrity is rewarded with a five-year contract.

Martial was never going to cause Newcastle any problems on Wednesday night, no matter what iteration of the talented Frenchman turned up and regardless of how many full-backs Eddie Howe shoehorned into his side, given his need to rotate the pack. Martial checked out a long time ago.

We have all been taken for fools at some point. There was the season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer where Martial became the first United striker since Romelu Lukaku to hit 20 goals in a season, having been deployed in a central role after initially playing out wide.

“He is becoming more and more like a top No 9 each week,” former United midfielder Paul Scholes said at the time.

“Sometimes he is unstoppable,” Solskjaer gushed. How did Martial repay a manager who remains the only coach to get the best out of him? By crying “treachery” for overplaying him in a later interview.

Coaches who get to see what he can do behind closed doors on the training pitch, when things are much less intense, have all fallen into the trap.

“We play our best football when Anthony Martial is in the team,” Ten Hag eulogised last season. The ability is unquestionable, the application not so much.

It is not just his laissez-faire approach to matters on the pitch that makes Martial the perfect yardstick to examine what’s left of this once great club. Manchester

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