Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s personal touch to Anthony Martial helped transform him into a “£100m Ferrari” and a “world-class” goal scorer.
The French-man, Anthony Martial evidence grows week-by-week in a game as he thrives under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s guidance.
It actually turns out it takes a striker to get the best from a striker. Something Solskjaer said was instructive of how Martial’s game has developed during the Norwegian’s time in charge.
Precisely, the type of goals Solskjaer built his career on. The goals that involve being in precisely the right place at the right time, feeding on a striker’s instinct.
This helps explain why this is by some distance Martial’s most prolific season as a United player and as the striker genuinely looks to be enjoying his football.
Martial was handed the responsibility of leading United’s exciting forward line and is prospering.
In pre-season, Solskjaer sent Martial a message asking if he’d like his No 9 shirt back after Lukaku’s departure to Inter Milan.
When Martial replied with a yes, Solskjaer said it was on the condition he showed he was worthy of it every time he stepped on the pitch.
Martial has kept his side of the bargain.
He has become the game-changer and these qualities were once more in evidence as United tiled to hack their way through a thicket of Copenhagen defenders in the Europa League on Monday night.
It was Martial’s fancy footwork that saw United breach the stubborn Danish backline. Additionally, it was Martial who felled to win the match-winning penalty in extra time converted by Bruno Fernandes.
The Frenchman’s sharpness in the box has finally eradicated the critic that has dogged him during his five years at Old Trafford.
For so long, he was seen as inconsistent. The kind of player who’d maybe bang in a wonder-goal one week but then not score for the next three.
Now, the background noise is pure praise for the 24-year-old.
“Everyone’s got an opinion on Marital. He is a Ferrari. He just looked like a £100m player”. Said Owen Hargreaves.
His former United team-mate Paul Scholes added, “he is turning into a No 9 more and more every game I watch”.
Another Old Trafford favorite, Robin van Persie described him as a “world-class player” and at some point, during the discussion, Van Persie said, “he was struggling under Mourinho. Right?”
Martial’s struggle Under Mourinho
Martial was regularly cold-shouldered during Mourinho’s two and a half seasons in United. It was the classic Mourinho carrot and stick approach.
One moment, Mourinho was giving Martial a pat on the back for tracking back to win a tackle near the touchline. Next, he was being scolded for standing still or a perceived lack of effort.
This led to Martial’s career almost coming to an end in July 2018 after he has the audacity to fly to Paris from a pre-season tour of the United States to be at birth of his second child.
To compound the matter, Martial was fined £180,000 and placed on the transfer list. He obviously didn’t leave in the end. But is it really any wonder the Frenchman’s two lowest-scoring seasons in United colors came under Mourinho?
While the Portuguese placed Martial on the edge with barbed criticism, Solskjaer has made him feel appreciated.
After the game, the Norwegian made a beeline to Martial and warmly embraced him. The man who scored 126 goals for United could be seen imparting wisdom.
Similarly, Solskjaer realized that Martial had the qualities required to play the center-forward position.
While Martial still gravitates to the left side, he realizes his primary focus must be to find space inside the box. “Between the posts” as his manager puts it.
Martial will get another chance to show his vast improvement in the semi-final against Sevilla on Sunday night.