There is no doubt about the scary potential that Anthony Martial has. Even if the last two to three seasons have been really difficult for him at a personal level, where he has had issues ongoing off the pitch and has not been a regular starter under either Jose Mourinho or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
However, after receiving his number nine jersey once again and following the departure of Romelu Lukaku, he is expected to play on a more regular basis and will be hoping to reach 20-25 league goals this season. The Red Devils will be hoping for a much better season as a whole, as they failed to be constantly effective on both sides of the pitch last season, from being defensively reckless to limited and predictable on the attacking area of the game. And if they can do that, their hopes for a top four finish is surely not impossible.
Focusing more on Martial, he’s been scoring on a few occasions over the last couple of weeks, with two goals in two games against Partizan Belgrade to help United qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League, as well as a crucial and much needed goal away at Norwich City. He’s come in at the right time with the goals as both Daniel James and Marcus Rashford have gone quiet recently.
Since his debut for the club in August 2015, he has gone on to score 50 goals for Manchester United, more than any other player within the squad from the beginning of the period. Just on that note, one can immediately understand the qualities and abilities he brings to the team, especially in the final third of the pitch and his impressive personal composure whilst having his back to goal.
It has taken some time to find out the player’s best position, given that he can be effectively and deadly either as a left-sided winger or a lone centre-forward, thanks to his movement on and off the ball and his creativity in the dangerous areas of the pitch. On top of that, he has shown what he offers to the team when he isn’t scoring, as he notched two key assists recently against Brighton.
As long as all the attackers stay fit and in fine form, Ole will need to keep a consistent and dominant attacking setup from now till the end of the campaign, with Martial as the number nine and both Daniel James and Rashford as the wide players being the ideal idea. If this does happen, it would allow Martial to be freed from his defensive duties and be utilised within the advanced areas.
The 23-year-old’s standout attribute just happens to be his one on one dribbling and his intelligence to take on two to three players within the matter of seconds, as he has the pace as well as the trickery to be the difference on the flanks. However, when he is played in this role, he can easily be marked by two players and left isolated, forcing him to remain unknown for the rest of the game.
Given that both Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez left Old Trafford in the summer, without the club bringing in a replacement at all, Martial’s qualities and potential is more required through the middle than the flanks. His goals and assists in all competitions have come from the central position, where he has the much needed licence to roam and move around to lead the side’s attack and build-up play.
Overall, Solskjaer should not use his favouritism of Rashford and push Martial back out onto the wings, as the former is not a clinical goal-scorer and is unable to bring other players into the game whilst the latter is arguably the side’s best forward in front of goal. Martial is one of the most important players in the squad and has the quality to be a game-changer or match-winner when required, and he can start or continue to be one for the Red Devils as long as he is used centrally.