Man Utd 'at their best' with Martial in the team, says Ten Hag

By Sports Desk April 12, 2023

Manchester United are at their best when Anthony Martial is in the team, according to manager Erik ten Hag.

Martial's career at Old Trafford since signing from Monaco in 2015 has been plagued by injuries, with the forward loaned out to Sevilla for the second half of last season where he scored just once in 12 appearances.

A strong pre-season meant this campaign started with optimism, though he has again been in and out of the line-up because of his fitness with Marcus Rashford's goals proving crucial in his absence.

With Rashford ruled out for several games with a muscle injury and January loan signing Wout Weghorst struggling in front of goal, Ten Hag needs Martial to start firing if United are to add more silverware to the EFL Cup they lifted in February, which ended a six-year trophy drought.

Ten Hag is confident the 27-year-old will be a big help over the rest of the season, though he will not rush the forward back to the team before he is ready despite him scoring off the bench in the 2-0 victory over Everton at the weekend.

"We don't have to force things," Ten Hag told reporters. "We are careful. The front line against Everton worked really well.

"When he [Martial] is in the team, we play our best football and we have our best results as a team. The time he needs for a goal is less. I defend him because I point to the stats and see how he contributes."

Martial's first start since January could come against his former side Sevilla in the Europa League on Thursday as United meet the six-time winners in the first leg of their quarter-final clash at Old Trafford.

Ten Hag believes Martial is ready to play from the off for the first time since returning from a hip injury, saying: "I think he is ready to start.

"But the front line did very well against Brentford and we picked the same against Everton. The advantage was we could bring Martial back slowly, giving him minutes, but I think already against Everton he was ready to start the game."

United could also be boosted by Christian Eriksen being available for the starting XI for the first time in over three months, after his strong start with the Red Devils was hampered by an ankle injury suffered against Reading in the FA Cup fourth round back in January.

Ten Hag believes the Denmark international's return will improve United's midfield, explaining: "I think the balance in the midfield was good with Casemiro, Eriksen and Bruno [Fernandes].

"Casemiro is the balance player, Eriksen can support him but also go to the final part of the game, can create chances with key passes.

"So yeah, a really important player and I think he had seven or eight assists in the league, which tells the story."

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