It feels like Anthony Martial has long needed to prove a point to his detractors.
Words like ‘potential’ and ‘hype’ have been thrown around in relation to the forward for many a year, but he’s almost five years into his Manchester United career now. Only Wayne Rooney has contributed more goals and assists to United than Martial in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has successfully re-energised Martial, helping the Frenchman rediscover his best form by reinstating him as the club’s No.9 and it now looks like the striker is here to stay.
Solskjaer’s decision to give Martial the centre-forward role back – and the shirt number to go with it – was not just designed as a confidence-booster. Technically and tactically it has worked too, with Martial on course for his best United season goals-wise before coronavirus hit. Martial and Marcus Rashford were dovetailing beautifully, both scoring more goals than ever before.
The statistics reflect the fact that Martial is producing better results than ever. He has averaged a goal or assist every 115 minutes across the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League so far this season, simply because he is taking more shots from inside the box. Bruno Fernandes’ January arrival then improved the quality of service Martial was getting from his midfield. It’s no surprise that he’s thriving.
As Solskjaer said of Martial when his form was dipping a touch: “That’s when you see the real player. That’s when they have to go the extra mile, sacrifice you body for blocks or to sacrifice a broken nose to score a goal.”