The return to competitive action is within touching distance for Manchester United, with boss Erik ten Hag completing preparations for the fourth-round Carabao Cup tie against Championship leaders Burnley.
It will mark the Red Devils’ last games since the start of November – before the pausing of the campaign to pave the way for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar – when prodigious starlet Alejandro Garnacho clinched a huge victory over Fulham with a deft burst of pace in the dying embers to give United all three points and maintain the pursuit of Champions League football.
The impending clash versus Burnley will also be the first tie without Cristiano Ronaldo on the books, who terminated his contract with the club by mutual consent at the end of November, following an explosive interview with Piers Morgan.
Naturally, the Theatre of Dreams has since been host to a plethora of transfer rumours demanding the replacement of the legendary talisman, but boss Erik ten Hag might yet have one home remedy to ail the offensive woes in the shape of Anthony Martial, who must grasp his forthcoming opportunity.
However, time waits for no man, and the 37-year-old sensation has suffered the toll of the twilight years in professional football recently; upon the appointment of Ten Hag, Ronaldo’s relationship with the club deteriorated, and indeed erupted last month.
For all his plunder, the 196-cap Portugal international – holding the world record for most international goals with 118 – managed to clinch just three strikes from 16 appearances this term, actually being outscored by teammate Martial.
The 27-year-old Martial, who endured a miserable loan spell with Sevilla, scoring just one goal from 12 outings, during the latter half of last season, has displayed promising signs over the first phase of the current campaign, scoring four goals and assisting two more from just seven appearances, starting only three times.
Having exhibited such promise at the maiden stage of his Red Devils career, signing from AS Monaco for £36m in 2015 and scoring 18 goals and ten assists across 53 showing for his English outfit, the ace has failed to build on the hype.
But now there is a glorious chance to assume the role of talisman at the club, and prove to a new manager with a compelling philosophy that he can be a “Ferrari” – as once hailed by Owen Hargreaves – once more.
With the Burnley fixture looming and several first-team stars likely to miss out following the conclusion of the World Cup, Martial has the opportunity to dazzle, and demonstrate his calibre to his manager, who will be beginning to get a taste of what the striker can offer to his team.
There will need to be a level of consistency and cutting edge that has evaded Martial for several seasons now, but he has placed a foundation to build on with stellar work earlier this term, and now he has the chance to flourish once again.