The curious case of Martial’s finishing

Phil

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The guy was on fire after the Covid break, such a shame where he's at now. I really don't believe in him to finish off a 1 on 1 chance and it feels like he doesn't believe in himself either..
 

Trequarista10

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He was scoring more goals than expected basing on chances, one of the best in the League anyway for a few seasons. Last year he was 1st or 2nd (him and Greenwood).
For example Rashford oscillates around average on that stat. Martial was on different level.

I have no idea what happened to him, he's been in such a poor form for a few months now.
I mean he's obviously been worse this season, don't need stats for that, probably just confidence. But stats generally are a bit rubbish. Numerous possible factors which can distort such a stat. I believe the most common one used simply goes by where the shot is taken from, what about position of the goalkeeper, position of the nearby defenders, speed, bounce or spin on the ball if its a first time shot, reaction time, or body position and how under control the ball is if the striker has carried the ball before shooting. What if a player has a difficult chance to shoot and score, but instead attempts to dribble. What if they are tackled instead, or what if they dribble to a semi open goal.
 

AKDevil

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He takes chances and plays like he’s guaranteed to get another. Can’t find the word but the lack of determination in him to look like he wants to make every moment count is annoying.
 

Foxbatt

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Before you could bet your house that he is going to score. Now it's the exact opposite. He was unlucky too today. It was a brilliant save by Pope and a terrible miss by Martial for the other. I thought he looked knackered for the opportunity at the end of the game.
 

Achilles McCool

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Shades of Andy Cole early in his career when he needed 5 chances to score 1 goal.
A more lethal finisher, and we’d bet set up top!
 

Borys

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I mean he's obviously been worse this season, don't need stats for that, probably just confidence. But stats generally are a bit rubbish. Numerous possible factors which can distort such a stat. I believe the most common one used simply goes by where the shot is taken from, what about position of the goalkeeper, position of the nearby defenders, speed, bounce or spin on the ball if its a first time shot, reaction time, or body position and how under control the ball is if the striker has carried the ball before shooting. What if a player has a difficult chance to shoot and score, but instead attempts to dribble. What if they are tackled instead, or what if they dribble to a semi open goal.
It doesn't matter, because rules for calculation of those stats (goals - expected goals) do not change. So if he was getting high score on that parameter for a few seasons, and now is below average, the problem lies with Martial not with stats.

By the way the difference (in Martial performance level) this season to last is quite significant.
 

Rightnr

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Honestly, he's probably my favourite player at Man Utd and one of the reasons is his ice-cool finishing.

It's weird he finally got a chance at 9 and he's lost his finishing. I almost wonder if it's a bit like the Zlatan season and Cavani's arrival has dented his confidence. I understood it back then but now he has to be able to fight off competition and merit his place as striker, take his chances when needed.

I really hope he gets it back because if he does, we'd be deadly dangerous.
 

RedDevilCanuck

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If he keeps up this bullshit then he will miss another tournament for France.

No jose to blame, just himself.
 

Trequarista10

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It doesn't matter, because rules for calculation of those stats (goals - expected goals) do not change. So if he was getting high score on that parameter for a few seasons, and now is below average, the problem lies with Martial not with stats.

By the way the difference (in Martial performance level) this season to last is quite significant.
I'm not disputing the difference between previous seasons, that is evident in his goal tally and a few memorable misses, but I'm disputing that he was ever a great finisher. He's always been an okay/streaky finisher. One half decent little run and the stats would realign. He'd still be an okay/streaky finisher though, not a great one.
 

Hernandez - BFA

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He always tries to finesse it. That opportunity where he tried to finesse it top corner after Matic won the ball in their half was just classic Martial. He made a decent amount of space to shoot, the near post was such a gaping option as the goalkeeper's vision was obscured. Goes for a dinky-finesse over the bar.

Chances that the likes of Aguero, Haaland, Lewandowski, Kane etc would have just drilled in.

Martial has the talent, but he just doesn't have the smarts. He doesn't have many types of finishes in his locker. He's scored some delicious curled efforts - but if you don't possess the ability to differ your shot technique then you'll never be a world class striker.

We certainly need to improve on him.
 

Raven

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I don’t think he’s a centre forward like Cavani. You give that chance at the end to Cavani and he buries it for 2-0.

Hes better as a wide forward for me.
Shit talk. Cavani has missed plenty of sitters for us this season.
 

Jaqen H'ghar

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He overthinks it. I think a rest where he could take his mind off the stress would do wonders for him. He needs to relax rather than try harder. I think he'll come good soon.
 

Glorio

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I mean he's obviously been worse this season, don't need stats for that, probably just confidence. But stats generally are a bit rubbish. Numerous possible factors which can distort such a stat. I believe the most common one used simply goes by where the shot is taken from, what about position of the goalkeeper, position of the nearby defenders, speed, bounce or spin on the ball if its a first time shot, reaction time, or body position and how under control the ball is if the striker has carried the ball before shooting. What if a player has a difficult chance to shoot and score, but instead attempts to dribble. What if they are tackled instead, or what if they dribble to a semi open goal.
See what you're saying, however, in this case I strongly disagree. As I said in a previous post, even in Martial's most underwhelming seasons, if he had the ball in the box, you were dead cert we'd be celebrating a goal. It caught my attention particularly because he was such a young player. Didn't matter the size of the game, he was just ice cold. The issue was always that due to insufficient off the ball movement, it didn't happen as often as we wanted. Now he's getting chances and he just seems to have lost it. This actually started towards the end of last season. Not sure what's happened there at all. We need him to find his scoring touch to give us the best chance of staying in this title race.
 

arnie_ni

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Hes actually been that bad in front of gial that if he picks up his level to that of last season for the next 20 odd games Id actually believe we could win the league. We've largely been doing it without him at his best.
 

Oldtraffordboy

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Agree, his finishing has been abysmal this season. Taking extra touches, and finding the keeper or the stands.

His link up play has been much improved over the last 12 months tbf, and he's got a good relationship Rashford so still happy for him to be starting most games.
 

The Original

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Like someone said he just seems to have put on some weight as he looks or seems so sluggish which much hinder his natural way of playing football, reminds me of aghbonlaor when he out on some muscles so he could handle the big centre halves but lost some of his explosiveness.

But his confidence is really shot to pieces he just can't shoot properly anymore so strange about him this year hopefully he rediscover his finishing touch.
He did try a nice shot from outside the box in the first half so it can't simply be a loss of confidence. I think it's a mental block, alright, but not a loss of confidence per see.
 

pratyush_utd

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Need to get himself in the form. Imagine if we get Greenwood and Martial firing like last season.
 

Dearg hÉireann

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Shades of Andy Cole early in his career when he needed 5 chances to score 1 goal.
A more lethal finisher, and we’d bet set up top!
Andy Cole in this United team would be a lot more productive than Martial will ever be. He's a player who flatters to deceive more often than not.
 

Trequarista10

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See what you're saying, however, in this case I strongly disagree. As I said in a previous post, even in Martial's most underwhelming seasons, if he had the ball in the box, you were dead cert we'd be celebrating a goal. It caught my attention particularly because he was such a young player. Didn't matter the size of the game, he was just ice cold. The issue was always that due to insufficient off the ball movement, it didn't happen as often as we wanted. Now he's getting chances and he just seems to have lost it. This actually started towards the end of last season. Not sure what's happened there at all. We need him to find his scoring touch to give us the best chance of staying in this title race.
I get ya but my memory is a bit different. I know in his first season he had a really good run at the start where he looked deadly and I had the same impression as you, but it didn't last all that long. My interpretation is Martial is okay-to-decent at fairly straight forward one v ones, and he'll usually try and create those for himself by either beating a defender rather than shooting, or by controlling the ball rather than shooting first time, both with the intention of trying to create the easier finishing opportunity for himself. This also means sometimes he won't get the shot off, as he declines to shoot earlier if the chance is difficult, so his stat % is padded a bit that way.

I can't remember many goals from Martial where the finish alone was something that I thought, that was really difficult, or thats a finish I wouldn't have expected. In comparison I watched a video of Vardy's goals earlier today and there were a fair few where he scored by either smacking it from a difficult angle, or surprising the keeper by hitting it early or on his weak foot, or just getting a foot on the ball and getting it in the general direction of the goal. Rooney was the same. They may not look the prettiest goals and will miss a lot too, but a great finisher has that instinct to decide this is the best or only way to score, whereas Martial would more likely pass or dribble or cut back until he has a clear one on one and attempt the inside of the boot stroked finish into the bottom corner.
 

TMDaines

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I think it's a bit of a myth that he was ever a great finisher. Due to his calm (relaxed) style and body language, he looks extremely composed in front of goal, doesn't smash the ball, always attempts to finesse it in, so when they go in it looks classy as feck and he looks like a great finisher.

Most of the best finishers though, the goals won't always look pretty but they find the back of the net consistently. That's never been the case with Tony.
During his time at United he has consistently outperformed his expected goals each and every season in the league.
 

TrustInJanuzaj

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Half a season? He's never really been good enough for United to be a starter as a striker. He hardly developed since he joined us. It's much worse than a patch.
By that token he was one of the best strikers in the league for 6 months last season so you can’t have it both ways. He’s clearly a classy player struggling for that confidence which is when fans should rally behind a player but hey ho...
 

Waynne

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Make him and Rashford stay behind in training to hit targets in the goal until they puke.
 

Dominos

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By that token he was one of the best strikers in the league for 6 months last season so you can’t have it both ways. He’s clearly a classy player struggling for that confidence which is when fans should rally behind a player but hey ho...
To be fair, you can't have half a season confidence crisis at his age when you want to be United's main man up front, it's not good enough.

You could forgive him at the start of the season when he was on a drought, but he's broken the drought more than once now and he's still in shit form.

I'm a fan and I thought he was going to be immense this season off the back of last campaign but it's not happened for him, it's very frustrating.
 

Withnail

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Shades of Andy Cole early in his career when he needed 5 chances to score 1 goal.
A more lethal finisher, and we’d bet set up top!
The thing is he's always been an excellent finisher. It has to be confidence. All strikers go through a dry spell from time to time. I still reckon he'll get a bunch of goals in the second half of the season.
 

UNITED ACADEMY

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He‘s no longer ice cold. Even his hold up play wasn’t as good as last season despite of still good but not great anymore. He’s just declining in everything including his dribbling too. If you are going to get worse on your ability at least improve your finishing.
 

Scholes_boi

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Had an excellent chance this game and flopped it again. I think his start of the season red card and subsequent match bans have affected his composure. He still hasn't recovered and it's worrying.
 

TrustInJanuzaj

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To be fair, you can't have half a season confidence crisis at his age when you want to be United's main man up front, it's not good enough.

You could forgive him at the start of the season when he was on a drought, but he's broken the drought more than once now and he's still in shit form.

I'm a fan and I thought he was going to be immense this season off the back of last campaign but it's not happened for him, it's very frustrating.
Yeh I do agree which is why I would still like to bring in an alternative striker, but anyone writing him off or asking for him to be sold are being ridiculous. He’s a valuable player here and when on form is as good as anyone in the team.
 

InfiniteBoredom

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Mentally he isn’t in the right place. Wouldn’t surprise me if it comes out that he’s been a naughty boy and has marital troubles again.

His decline in finishing this season isn’t in technique but composure. Martial has never been the most versatile in his finishing technique, and extremely one footed on top of that, but he used to stare down the keeper and just side footed it coolly 9 out of 10 times. Now he snatches at everything, or takes an extra touch and misses the window.

Still has confidence in him to sort it out however. Losing some weight may help with that. Zlatan had similar problems in his 2nd season at Juve due to putting on too much weight.
 

Flying_Heckfish

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Hes actually been that bad in front of gial that if he picks up his level to that of last season for the next 20 odd games Id actually believe we could win the league. We've largely been doing it without him at his best.
Imagine post-break '20 level Rashford, Greenwood and Martial in this team. It's amazing we are top without that - and where we could be, with it.
 

Utd heap

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That finish at the end was very 'un' Martial like.

Blokes in a bit of a mess. Cant help but think he ends up arsing about at PSG scoring hat tricks v Dijon.

He's better than that.
 

KanieKaned

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I’ve always felt when he’s had time to think about what he’s doing he’s tended to miss a chance. Give him something with less time involving more instinct and he slots it away no bother. Couldn’t care too much though as we got the 3 points.
 

Murray3007

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he don't like competition for places for me, any time he has real competition he struggles to perform, when Zlatan came, When Lukkaku arrived and now cavani, surely cant be a coincidence. his best times has came his first season and last season when he basically started if he was fit
 

U99ted

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I’ve always felt when he’s had time to think about what he’s doing he’s tended to miss a chance. Give him something with less time involving more instinct and he slots it away no bother. Couldn’t care too much though as we got the 3 points.
Yep, the excellent header against Villa for instance.
 

Red00012

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I don’t think he’s a centre forward like Cavani. You give that chance at the end to Cavani and he buries it for 2-0.

Hes better as a wide forward for me.
To be fair Cavani missed kicked a sitter in the 2nd half that rolled into Pope’s hands
 

Achilles McCool

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Andy Cole in this United team would be a lot more productive than Martial will ever be. He's a player who flatters to deceive more often than not.
Very true! I’m just hoping Tony finds his way sooner rather than later! Cole would be a great player to try to emulate, but that said, their styles are different, so apples and oranges, I guess
 

Achilles McCool

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The thing is he's always been an excellent finisher. It has to be confidence. All strikers go through a dry spell from time to time. I still reckon he'll get a bunch of goals in the second half of the season.
I’m optimistic, but the turnaround needs to happen soon! (Preferably by Sunday)
 

Brexit_Brigade

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I can't remember many goals from Martial where the finish alone was something that I thought, that was really difficult, or thats a finish I wouldn't have expected
There have been loads, surely. He's got an entire collection of bangers from that inside-left position: off the top of my head, Stoke in 15/16 and 16/17 (maybe 17/18 too, he loved them), Everton in 17/18, Burnley a few games later (my favorite finish of his so far, smashed it in off the bar at the near post), Everton again in 18/19, two after lockdown last season against Sheff United and then Bournemouth (I think). Then those two magnificent lobs against Norwich and Watford last season, and another near post smash-in against Wolves. He's usually ice-cold in one-on-ones and above-average when he does pull the trigger on trickier chances, as you said yourself, hence:

During his time at United he has consistently outperformed his expected goals each and every season in the league.
My completely unverifiable theory is that this is largely because he's a great finisher with the ball at his feet, but also because he's naff at getting on the end of things in the box. So his xG is lower than it should be, and the clinical finishes from not-so-straightforward chances send him above his average.
 

dablem_10

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I feel he is not the same confidence after one exact match. Sevilla semi finals. dont know what happened expect he missed there 2-3 clear cut chances and we went out.