Manchester United forward Anthony Martial has revealed that his increased fitness levels have helped to take his game to the next level at the Old Trafford club. The Frenchman had his best season at the club, scoring 23 goals and 12 assists (35 goal involvements) in 48 appearances, beating his previous best of 17 goals and nine assists (26 goal involvements) in 49 appearances during his debut season (2015/16). In recent seasons, the Frenchman has been criticised for poor performances which saw the player sulk like Nicolas Anelka more often than not.
Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as the United manager, and after a series of chats with the Frenchman, Martial is not fitter, strong and in a position whereby he is the best central attacking player at the club. However, in the near future, the Frenchman could be challenged by Mason Greenwood, who according to Solskjaer is the best finisher at the club. He has seldom been chosen to play centrally and his 17 goals and five assists from 49 appearances this season have come from the wide positions. Martial, speaking about the changes, as reported by The Mirror, said:
“My job, or aim is to score goals. Then when I don’t have the ball it’s to be the first defender, meaning I have to press and close down.
“It’s something we work on in training and we’ve also worked hard on my fitness too, I’ve put in some great work with the coaching staff.
“Now I just want to make sure I continue in the same vein in order to be even better for next season.”
The 2019/20 season saw United forward line, Marcus Rashford, Martial and Greenwood score a total of 62 goals with a further 28 assists, meaning they have contributed a total of 90 goal contributions, which is a great achievement considering that United squad was struggling to score goals not all that long ago. When you add the contributions of Bruno Fernandes to this; 12 goals and eight assists – 20 goal contributions, with just four players, United will have seen 110 goal contributions during the season, which is a great achievement in itself.
Martial and Rashford have a healthy rivalry at the club in terms of scoring the goals. Whilst Rashford was in form late in 2019 and suffered his broken back at the start of 2020, if was left to Martial to carry the responsibility for United, despite the fact he had suffered an injury layoff too. Speaking with Inside United, the official Manchester United magazine, and reported by The Mirror, the Frenchman spoke about his rivalry with Rashford and the fact that it is healthy, Martial said:
“It doesn’t drive us on, not especially. Because we just try to help each other out. For example, there are some games where maybe a shot is on and then I decide to wait and see, and I give him the ball because I want him to score.
“And he does the same thing for me, so you see, we’re not just focussed on scoring all the time. We’re always going to do everything we can for the team to win.
“Which means that if he is better placed than me or I’m in a better position than him, we’ll always give each other the ball in order to score.
“I think it’s that which means… there is a healthy competition there, but the biggest thing is the positive rapport that we have with one another, which is like that.”
Martial, Rashford and Greenwood have former a deadly trio at the club this season. The Frenchman also spoke about Greenwood, after the 18-year-old had a breakthrough season at the Old Trafford club. Solskjaer confirmed that the player was the best finisher at the club and he proved it on the pitch, scoring some stunning goals for the club and showing his ability in the game, which has seen him likened to United legend Robin van Persie, which is great for the teenager and will inspire his to continue developing, which is something that he did physically during the lockdown. Martial said:
“The thing that strikes me about Mason is how effective and clinical he is. I get the feeling that whenever he shoots on goal, he scores! They are two really good players. It’s up to us to keep training hard and working to perfect how that trio works together.
“We mustn’t forget either that there are other players on the side lines who are pushing really hard to get a game. We need keep going and have to perform well in order to be able to play and win our games.”
Written by John Walker