When United signed youngster Anthony Martial from Monaco in the summer of 2015, there were doubts at Old Trafford as to how the Frenchman would fare in the Premier League. The French forward was just 19-years of age then and moving to England was certainly going to be difficult.
However, under the stewardship of Louis van Gaal, Anthony Martial showed promise and impressed in his first season at United as he was given ample playing time and room to grow. Martial played 49 games under his guidance and notched up 17 goals and 10 assists, thus, clearing the uncertainty surrounding his future in Manchester.
Unfortunately, the Dutch gaffer was sacked soon after and the arrival of the Special One did not bode well for former Monaco forward. After Mourinho signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton, Martial was relegated to a squad role and found playing time hard to come by.
However, come 2019, United had sacked Mourinho and replaced him with former United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. With the former’s departure from the club, Lukaku was moved on to Inter, and to the surprise of pundits and fans, OGS opted not to sign another striker. Instead, Ole decided to put his faith in Martial and entrusted him to the striker’s role and the number 9 jersey again, and oh boy, has he flourished since then.
The forward has been in fine form for the Red Devils this season, increasing his goal tally to 23 during United’s Europa League game against LASK and making him United’s top scorer. He has developed excellent chemistry with fellow forward Marcus Rashford and the synergy of the front-line, with the winter addition of Bruno Fernandes, has made them arguably one of the most potent attacks in Europe’s top leagues.
Ole praised the Frenchman during the post-match press conference after he netted the winning goal in United’s 2-1 victory over LASK in the Europe League Round of 16. Solskjaer revealed that Martial was “begging” to be subbed on and he promised a goal as well. Likewise, when Martial scored the winner, he looked up to the stands and exchanged smiles with Ole, showing the strong bonding between him and the gaffer.
Former United star Paul Scholes hailed the manager for his role in transforming Anthony Martial. While speaking to BT sport(via MEN), he said:
“He’s been terrific this season, probably one of the players of the season for Manchester United, and tonight was no different.”
“I think when Ole first came in, I don’t think Martial was hungry enough for goals.”
“I think Ole has really put that into him because he knows what he is capable of. He’s quick, he’s skillful, he can fly past people, he’s very difficult to play against but he’s added to his finishing and his goal scoring.”
Akin to the success of Anthony Martial this season is the management of United in general under OGS. He has guided the players carefully and offered them ample opportunities to repay his faith in them over the course of his managerial reign.
Ole has also been meticulous in the transfer market, signing players who have uplifted the team, like Maguire and Fernandes, rather than splurging on several acquisitions as has been the case for other managers after Sir Alex Ferguson retired from the club.
With Ole at the wheel, Manchester United seem to have gotten back on track to being title contenders in the upcoming seasons. What they needed wasn’t another SAF, much like the case of Martial, all United needed was Solskjaer.