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Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial: The Striker Conundrum or Blessing?

Manchester United are currently putting the finishing touches to their almost year-long pursuit of Jadon Sancho, it seems fitting to theorize how his arrival at the Theatre of Dreams impacts upon the strikers available at the club, namely Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.

To begin with, let’s look at Edinson Cavani, the deadline day signing from last summer, the man who was given the opportunity to lift the so-called “number seven curse” at United. After a late goal to deal tree points against Everton last November, Cavani announced himself to United fans with a sensational performance against Southampton having come on at half time to rescue a 0-2 deficit, capped off with a 92nd minute winning headed goal. 

The next few months were inconsistent, with off field issues and injuries limiting his minutes on the pitch. There were reports that Cavani was struggling to settle down in Manchester and wanted a move back to his home continent of South America and it looked for a while that he would leave without having played in front of the fans. A goal against Granada in the Europa League kickstarted a late season resurgence and he carried that form till the end of the season, the highlight being a 40-yard chip to celebrate the return of fans at Old Trafford. He ended the season with 17 goals, all of them from open play.

Mason Greenwood is the latest star to emerge from United’s famed academy, and is one of those rare commodities in football, a lethal finisher with either foot, able to keep the majority of his shots on target. Having made his debut as a substitute in the famous comeback win against Paris Saint-Germain in the 2018/19 season, Greenwood was gradually eased into the team, his minutes carefully handled by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

He exploded in that end of season, post lockdown period where he formed a deadly front three with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. A difficult start to the 2020/21 season meant he was largely an impact substitute until April before a late winner against Brighton proved to be the catalyst for another late season glut of goals. 

Across 105 appearances in two seasons, Greenwood has scored 29 goals, which are very impressive numbers when one realizes that the majority of these are off the bench. Having played mostly as a winger until now to compensate for his lack of physicality, Greenwood looks ready to transition into the centre forward role this season.

Anthony Martial is the player on this list with the most to prove, having endured a very underwhelming season in 2020/21. Signed from AS Monaco as a teenager in September 2015 under Louis Van Gaal, he had an excellent first season at the club before the arrivals of Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic meant that he had to move to a left wing position to retain his spot in the starting XI. 

After a couple of frustrating seasons under Jose Mourinho, Solskjaer’s arrival sparked new life into Martial and he ended up scoring 23 goals in all competitions in the 2019/20 season, being especially prolific in the post lockdown time frame. Expected to kick on, Martial had a forgettable 20/21 season, with a loss of confidence in front of goal as well as injuries not helping his cause.

In terms of style of play, all three have their very unique strengths which can only benefit the club to unlock different sorts of defensive formations. Cavani is the closest player the club has to a penalty box poacher, in the mould of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Solskjaer himself, although his off the ball movement is an underrated trait of his game. His ability to score from headers is unquestionably superior to both the others.

Martial is probably the most complete player out of the three when on the ball, able to dribble out of very tight spaces and is a very efficient finisher when on form. However his off the ball movement isn’t the best, and he prefers receiving the ball at feet rather than running into space which can occasionally slow down attacks.

Greenwood is the most clutch finisher at the club, able to score from inside or outside the box with ridiculously low back lift. Because he is two footed, he can be very difficult to mark for defenders. He has also worked on his build up play from the wing and looks set to be the club’s long term solution at centre forward once Cavani eventually leaves.

To summarize, Cavani would be most suited against medium to low block teams where his exceptional off the ball movement would help him to ghost into pockets of space and drag defenders towards him, leaving space centrally for the others to exploit. His expertise from set pieces would also come into play.

Martial and Greenwood would be most suited against teams where the club do not expect to dominate possession, with Martial dropping deep and holding up the ball before releasing it for Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes to hit the opposition on the counter attack.

It would be fascinating to see which combination of the front three the club chooses going into the new season, especially with Marcus Rashford unavailable for the first two months, and how much the centre forward varies based on opposition. It is imperative that the minutes for all these three players, especially for Cavani, is carefully managed in order to sustain a potential title challenge for the league as well as go deep into the Cup competitions.

Written by Avitaj Mitra

Anthony Martial opens up on the change made which took his game to the next level

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

Anthony Martial told to become more ruthless to be considered world-class

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial has ben told that he is not ruthless enough to be considered world-class. This season, the Frenchman has scored 23 goals and 12 assists in 47 appearances so far this season with at least one more match to play which will be the UEFA Europa League semi-final against Sevilla on Sunday evening. Granted, Martial has not been ruthless in front of goal but there is scope for him to be turned into a striker of that ilk, especially with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer aiming to make changes to his performances.

Solskjaer has already suggested that tweaks to his training regime, which he feels has brought out the best of the player. It is clear to see that he is happier at the club and seems to be smiling much more than he was under the management of Jose Mourinho. You can also see that he is more frustrated when he misses, which is good to see. Against FC Copenhagen, Martial was criticised as he was very much frustrated with United needing extra time to find a winner, which came from the penalty spot with Martial winning it and Bruno Fernandes scoring it.

Obviously, this will be something for Solskjaer and his coaching staff to get the better of ahead of the next match. It is clear that Martial is improving, having his best season at the club so far this season, beating his 17 goal haul in his debt season at the club, which was under the management of Louis van Gaal. Former England striker, Darren Bent feels that the Frenchman could become a but more ruthless in front of goal, which would be great for United.

Martial does not have a player to look up to at the club, which might be the problem. Granted, he has Odion Ighalo to learn from but he once had Zlatan Ibrahimovic but the Swede took his shirt number on arrival, which irked the Frenchman. Whilst this season would need to be something that he completed, it is going to be a while before Martial could be considered as a clinical striker, like Robin van Persie, Rudd van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney. Bent, speaking to talkSPORT, said:

“I think he’s a very good footballer, he’s got fantastic feet, but I still don’t think he’s ruthless enough in front of goal.

“He’s not world class, not yet. You can’t start calling him world class after one good season. Robert Lewandowski is world class. Harry Kane is world class.

“If he can consistently keep putting these goals in over a number of years then of course you can put him in there, but not yet.

“Martial shows flashes of brilliance at times, but if you were to put Kane in those positions last night how many of those chances would he have scored? Probably all of them, because that’s how ruthless he is.”

Solskjaer might be able to teach him as much as he can about being ruthless in front of goal but there are no guarantees that it will happen for the Frenchman as it needs to be in instinct more than something that can be trained. Not launching more criticism at him, this season his improvement has been there to see. If he can continue in the same way next season, aiming to improve some more, then it will be right for United, especially as goals seem to be coming from other areas too with Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood in double figures, with Bruno Fernandes scoring 11 times since he arrived at the club in January.

Written by John Walker

Anthony Martial’s key changes were vital in his Manchester United revival

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has pinpointed the key changes that striker Anthony Martial has made this season in his training regime that has helped to fire the club to third in the Premier League, and now in the final stages of the UEFA Europa League, in which United will face FC Copenhagen in the quarter-final stage in Cologne on Monday evening. Martial has spend five years at the club, signing as a 19-year-old from AS Monaco on deadline day in September 2015.

In his first season at the club, Martial scored 17 goals and 10 assists in all competitions, scoring one goal and one assist for his former club before his move to United transpired. It was his best ever season at United but this season, the Frenchman seems to have topped that and has so far scored 23 goals and 11 assists in all competitions, helping bring out the best of Marcus Rashford (22 goals and 10 assists) and Mason Greenwood (17 goals and five assists). The player seems to be loving it at United right now, which is clear to see as he is all smiles.

The 24-year-old is clearly onto some great things at the club and as he seems to be enjoying himself under Solskjaer, which seemed completely different under the management of Jose Mourinho with the player never smiling and always looking unhappy and not reaching his potential despite the fact the talent was always there. You cannot blame the player, looking back with hindsight. Martial is in the zone and ready to fire United to the top, which is a great sign once again.

Martial started the season with his number nine shirt, the shirt he started his career at the club with, which was given to Zlatan Ibrahimovic on his arrival at the club a year later. Martial was unhappy with that and despite being a silly excuse, could have contributed to his lack of form and more importantly the rift with Mourinho – because there was one. Solskjaer though, full of positivity and praise for the Frenchman, feels that the tweaks to his training regime have put the player in the zone this season, seeing him fire his way to being the clubs top scorer this season. Solskjaer, as reported by The Mirror, said:

“Antony [Martial] has made huge strides this season in many aspects of his game.

“He’s worked hard in the gym, and on his fitness, so physically he’s at the best level he’s been at in his career – there’s more to come from him.”

United will be fired up to face Copenhagen on Monday evening in Cologne in the quarter-final of the Europa League, seeking to obtain a place in the semi-final of the competition, which could be against either Wolverhampton Wanderers (a fifth match against the side this season) or Spanish side Sevilla, who won the competition three times in a row from the 2013/14 season to the 2015/16 season. United won it in the 2016/17 season with Atletico Madrid in the 2017/18 season followed by Chelsea in the 2018/19 season. Solskjaer concluded by saying:

“They’re starting to open up low defences now, with the signing of Bruno Fernandes, with the cutting inside from the right of Mason Greenwood, and obviously the speed of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

“So it’s going very much in the right direction and after the coronavirus break they have been very good.”

Written by John Walker

Anthony Martial’s comments on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggest Jose Mourinho was not good enough for him or Manchester United

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial has seemingly gone from strength to strength this season, scoring 21 goals for his club, which is his best season yet in his five-year career thus far. Having his number nine shirt back in his possession has been a good influence for the player, as wearing this shirt he had his best season at the club, before this one.

The Frenchman scored his 21st goal for the club on Monday evening at Old Trafford as United drew 2-2 with Southampton, which was a costly match as the visitors equalised in added time, stopping United from taking all three points, which would have risen them to third in the league table at the time, instead they still sit in fifth place.

Martial has flourished as the main striker at the club this season, flanked by Marcus Rashford on the left, Martial’s former position under Jose Mourinho, and Daniel James on the right, before Mason Greenwood announced himself on the world stage. Martial’s performances this season have seemingly shown Mourinho up after comments made when he managed the club between May 2016 and December 2018.

Martial saw his number nine shirt handed to Zlatan Ibrahimovic upon his arrival at the club in the summer of 2016, with the Frenchman donning the number 11 shirt which was recently vacated by Ryan Giggs. However, the Frenchman was happy with the number nine and his performances started to drop significantly and he looked unhappy. Mourinho suggested that Martial wanted to play up front for the wrong reasons, saying:

“I know that Martial likes to play as a No.9, sometimes, I think for the right reasons, sometimes I think for the wrong reasons, but I know he likes to play as a No.9.”

Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became the manager of the club, replacing Mourinho, the Norwegian has always seen the Frenchman as a striker, last summer giving him the responsibility of leading the line and once again donning his favoured number nine shirt at the club. Martial has addressed this, highlighting where Solskjaer has succeeded and Mourinho failed. The Frenchman said:

“He [Ole Gunnar Solskjaer] sent me a message, he said ‘do you want to take your no.9 shirt back?’.

“I straight up said yes! I said yes and he told me ‘now it’s up to you to show me [that you deserve it] every time you’re on the pitch’.”

Speaking of his role as the striker in the team, which is the position that Solskjaer has cast him in for the entire season, unless he has been rested, Martial cast some shade upon Mourinho, who is seemingly on the decline having not taken Tottenham Hotspur in the right direction this season. I guess it shows that Mourinho did not have the people management skills that Solskjaer does at the club. Martial concluded by saying:

“It’s different, for example on the wing I have more opportunities to dribble past players, to make the difference while as a 9 I’m here to score and I have scored more goals as a striker than as a winger so it’s a good sign for me.

“That’s the position [striker] where I was shaped & developed in at the academy when I was young, that’s where I feel at my best.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finds the key to success for his front three with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood in with the goals this season

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be very happy with his squad at this moment in time for what they have achieved on the pitch since the Premier League restart. His squad has thrilled with their attacking endeavours with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood providing 56 goals and 21 assists in all competitions.

United are currently on a 17-match unbeaten run and will go against at Old Trafford when they welcome Southampton in the Premier League on Monday evening. United have something to achieve in this match, not only stretching their unbeaten run to 18 matches but to break into the top four of the Premier League, leapfrogging Chelsea and Leicester City.

Both clubs lost this weekend in humiliating fashion, Chelsea lost 3-0 to Sheffield United with Leicester losing 4-1 to Bournemouth. If United can take advantage of this, they could be third later this evening with advantage ahead of their rivals, now that Manchester City’s ban in European competition has been reversed after appeal.

United seem to be playing free-flow attacking football at this time, which is all I have ever wanted to see since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season. Some suggest a degree of attacking freedom is the reason for this. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says differently with a strict framework across the front three of his team.

Both Rashford and Martial have scored 20 goals this season, both reaching their best ever season for United with teenage attacker Greenwood scoring 16 goals so far, four of them in United’s last three matches alone. Solskjaer was asked about the trio, how they rotate and if they are modelled on Barcelona trio Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar. Solskjaer said:

“It’s not new for United! Did you not watch Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez when they were playing when Sir Alex gave them some freedom?

“Within a framework and structure, we do work a lot on patterns and positions and where we want the players to be, but within that we understand that you might pop up on the right or the left or be in different positions, but we have to fill different positions.

“There has been too much, last year, sometimes this year, players want to gravitate over to the left, and go on there and play tippy-tappy football.

“That is something we wanted to get rid of, and we have been more progressive and more disciplined in our positions.”

United have just four matches to play in the Premier League, including Monday’s match with Southampton. They play again on Thursday, travelling to London to face Crystal Palace before their Emirates FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Sunday. Then, to complete the domestic season, a visit to Old Trafford for West Ham United before United face Leicester City away on the final day fo the season.

Manchester United are ‘the real deal’ and whoever finishes ahead of them next season ‘will win the league’ says Robbie Savage

Manchester United have seemingly started their rise in the Premier League to grasp a higher-placed finish this season with an aim to secure UEFA Champions League football next season, taking on Leicester City now to finish in fourth place, unless then can aim higher. In the past four matches, they have broken a record, which is a good thing.

United, led by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, have become the first Premier League team to win four matches in a row by scoring three or more goals in each match; beating Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion and Sheffield United by 3-0 scorelines and beating Bournemouth 5-2, which has set the ball rolling for more improvement this season.

Former United academy star, Robbie Savage has written a complimentary article on his former team in The Mirror, in which he praised 18-year-old Mason Greenwood, who has hit 16 goals for the club this season, which could see the teenager match or even break a club record, providing he scores two or more goals this season. Savage said:

“Mason Greenwood is not just the future of English football and a phenomenal young talent.

“If he manages two more goals on the run-in for Manchester United, he will have scored more in his first season for the club as a teenager than George Best, Wayne Rooney and Brian Kidd.

“Greenwood has not just appeared from nowhere on the United conveyor belt. Inside the club, he has been earmarked as a bright prospect for some time.

“But 16 goals to date in his debut season at first team level speaks for itself. Greenwood is the real deal. He is being managed perfectly by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is giving him due praise in public but reminding him to live his life the right way off the pitch.

Savage also talked about United’s interest in Jadon Sancho, which has been running for some time with significant developments in the fact that United have seemingly stated what they will pay with Borussia Dortmund stating what they would accept and various rumours impending from there. The context was about United attack with Sancho and Greenwood included, saying:

“And if United try to sign Jadon Sancho or Harry Kane in the transfer window, we could be watching England’s front three at Old Trafford next season: Sancho or Kane, Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.”

Savage also spoke about United next season, suggesting that whoever finished above them in the league will win the league, which makes you think about what he is saying. He complimented United’s form at this stage of the season but suggested that they need improvement to bring something to the league. Speaking about this, Savage said:

“United have been so impressive since football’s return from lockdown that I believe, with only two or three additions down the spine of the team, they are genuine top-two contenders next season.

“In fact, I will make this prediction: Whoever finishes above United in 2021 will win the title – especially if they strengthen the squad.

“I would go for Kalidou Koulibaly, the Napoli captain, because he would bring pace to the heart of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s back four.

“I would go for a playmaker to provide competition for Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, who was absolutely majestic at Aston Villa on Thursday night – maybe Jack Grealish or James Maddison.

“And I would go for Sancho or Kane, which would send a signal to the rest of the Premier League: United are back in business.

“Obviously we can’t be sure, at this stage, how heavily the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on clubs’ spending power.

“But I get the impression Solskjaer is close to assembling an irresistible attacking force who can play with the swagger, intensity and tempo United fans have come to expect down the years.

“A front five of Fernandes, Pogba, Rashford, Greenwood and Kane or Sancho would take some stopping.

“As it is, Solskjaer has beaten Manchester City three times this season and one way or another I expect United to qualify for the Champions League next year – either through a top-four finish or by winning the Europa League.

“And they are free-scoring – the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by a three-goal margin.”

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood compared to Liverpool’s front three by Gary Neville

Former Manchester United captain and Class of 1992 graduate Gary Neville believes that Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have the ‘talent and ability’ to become United’s version of Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. This season, the United trio have been on fire, at times.

This season, Rashford, 22, has made a total of 37 appearances for the club, scoring 20 goals and nine assists, whereas Martial, 24, has made 40 appearances, scoring 20 goals and seven assists and Greenwood, 18, has made 42 appearances, scoring 16 goals and five assists. In total, the trio has scored 56 goals and 21 assists – 77 goal contributions.

United have done well since returning to action after the coronavirus pendmic suspended world football and have, in their last four Premier League matches, won each by scoring three or more goals in each match; 3-0 against Sheffield United, Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa with a 5-2 victory over Bournemouth.

The Liverpool trio have scored 50 goals between them; Salah 21, Mane 18, and Firmino 11 with the trio assisting 10, eight, and ten goals respectively. In total, the trio were responsible for a total of 78 goal contributions – one more than United. It shows that the future could be good for United, once this front three gain more experience together.

Seemingly pouring cold water on the current hype, Neville insisted that the United trio have raw talent which could help them become best attack in the league. On the United legends podcast, entitled the Gary Neville podcast, Neville spoke about the United trio, going into detail about his thoughts and opinions, saying:

“Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are matured, they are established, they are the real deal – the best front three in the Premier League. I was saying that even when Manchester City were winning the league.

“The three that United have got are not at the level of Liverpool’s front three yet, you wouldn’t expect them to be, but they have the talent and ability.

“There were questions whether Rashford was good enough, whether Martial was good enough and Greenwood hadn’t obviously emerged back then, but they are proving they are good enough, that they can play and that they will get better.

“The Liverpool front three are ahead, but it is exciting for Manchester United. If you believe in young players and give them opportunities in the positions they want to play in, you will be amazed what you can achieve.”

Anthony Martial left angry and let down after losing the number nine shirt four years ago

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial was let down by the decision to remove his number nine shirt when Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived at the club in the summer of 2016 and it was something that dented his morale at the time. It was something that then manager Jose Mourinho was criticised for, but seemed to weather.

During his time at United, Ibrahimovic scored 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 matches before leaving for LA Galaxy in March 2018, ending his time at the Old Trafford club, which at the time of his arrival was heavily criticised because of the player’s age. He did well at the club and despite an injury, helped United to an EFL Cup and UEFA Europa League double.

Former United left-back Patrice Evra stated that the removal of the number nine shirt dented Martial’s confidence after a fine start at the club in which he scored 17 goals and nine assists in 43 appearances during there 2015/16 season, a season which also saw the end of Louis van Gaal, with United winning the Emirates FA Cup.

This season, Martial seems to have improved, scoring 19 goals in all competitions so far, adding six assists, making 38 appearances in total. Against Sheffield United, the Frenchman scored his first hat-trick for the club and United’s first since Ibrahimovic scored one against Saint-Etienne in February 2017. Martial was not seen as a central striker whilst Mourinho managed the club, also removing him of his favourite number. Evra said:

“I think he had a brilliant start when he played under [Louis] van Gaal. hen I remember one episode, unfortunately I think they let him really down when they swapped the shirt with Zlatan.

“I remember we were in the national team and he received a call from the club and they say you have to give your No. 9 shirt, and he was like, ‘no, absolutely not’.

“But after, Mourinho contacted him to say Zlatan is going to take the No. 9 and you’re going to take the No. 11. ‘It’s not like I’m going to say Martial’s been not playing well because of that number shirt, but it started from there.”

Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 and Solskjaer was brought in as the caretaker manager, then given the job permanently the following March. Also, with Ibrahimovic out of the picture, Martial was given his old shirt number back and seems to be heading in the right direction once again. Evra concluded by saying:

“I remember at the beginning of the season I went to Carrington and Martial was really upset and really frustrated because he was injured.

“And I was like, ‘wow, Anto, that’s really impressive because last time I saw you weren’t that enthusiastic, and now when you’re injured you want to come back really fast to help the team’.

“So, for me, from now I think United are going to get the best of Anthony Martial. Not only because he scored his hat-trick but his attitude is where you want to play for Man United. Martial can destroy any defender if he decides.

“That’s why it’s really frustrating. Many people know his talent, you can ask Wayne Rooney, he’s one of the best No.9s. But he needs that aggressiveness to score goals, that anger, it’s more about his personality.”

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial told to up their game by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United forwards Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have been told by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to up their game or he will seek to find replacements in the transfer market this summer. This season, both Rashford and Martial have each scored 19 goals, which is a good achievement but consistency is needed.

United are on a 14-match unbeaten run at this stage of the season, which is the best form the club has been in this season. United will return to Premier League action on Tuesday evening as they travel to the Amex to face Brighton and Hove Albion, needing another win to keep the pressure on Chelsea. Speaking about Martial and Rashford, Solskjaer said:

“We’re too far away from where we need to be and want to be.

“We have always got to look at improving and if they don’t improve, we might have to look somewhere else to get better because we have to be better.”

Solskjaer had to fight for his place in the squad under Sir Alex Ferguson during his playing career due to the many good attacking players at the club at the time. He would like Rashford, 22, and Martial, 24, to experience the same fear at the Theatre of Dreams during their careers, which should bring out the best in them. Solskjaer also said:

“If you think you’ve got a divine right to be playing every game and are doing so well that we’re not going to look for players to replace you, you’re in the wrong place.

“I’ve been here myself for so many years as a striker and Teddy Sheringham comes in, Dwight Yorke comes in, Ruud van Nistelrooy comes in, Wayne Rooney comes in.

“You need competition for places at Manchester United.”

Rashford and Martial are good players but knowing that you cannot be dropped because you are the only experienced attacking players at the club, at least before Odion Ighalo arrived in January, is not exactly the best thing to have at the club. If a player knows they are undroppable, it could contribute to more failure than success.

Solskjaer has Ighalo and Mason Greenwood to call upon at the present time if either Rashford or Martial, or both, are off key. However, Greenwood is in his first season as a regular first team player at the club and despite scoring 12 goals, he is not the player to solve the problem, at least right now it could be too much pressure for him. Solskjaer continued by saying:

“They’re good boys to talk to, discuss and sit with and they know that I trust them, they know I want the best for them.

“But they also know I’ve got to make decisions for the team and the club.”

Rashford was in good form this season then suffered an injury to his back which looked set to keep him out for the rest of the season. However, the coronavirus pandemic gave him time to recover before football returned and now he is on the way to getting back his form again. Rashford has improved for United each season and having scored 13 goals each season for the last two, has broken that by six this season. Solskjaer concluded by saying:

“Marcus is on his way to his best season ever, so I’m looking forward to him getting more minutes. He’ll definitely score soon.”

copyright: JW